By KIM LEATHERMAN
SEBRING — Ladonna Rodriguez and other business owners started the workday off with a shock Thursday morning as they entered businesses that had been vandalized. Sebring Police Department’s Public Information Officer Commander Curtis Hart said the vandal(s) struck several businesses and a church in the early morning hours on Thursday.
All of the victims were within a few blocks of each other.
Rodriguez, the owner of Hobby Hill Florist at 541 N Ridgewood Drive, explained the site that awaited her before opening her business.
“I was walking into work and saw the delivery van leaning, someone cut my tires,” she said. “Someone had thrown a brick through my rear window.”
In addition to Hobby Hill, Crenshaw Collision, Riles Pump and a church on the Sebring Parkway were also victims of the vandalism. Hart said there was metal and debris on the Parkway that officers were removing Thursday morning, in addition to the reports of broken windows and slashed tires.
Rodriguez was determined to take the matter in stride and not let it get her upset.
“I wish people would take more of an interest in their children,” Rodriguez said. “I believe that this starts at home. I refuse to get angry. We just keep going. We are very, very blessed.”
Adam Riles is the owner of the family business, Riles Pump. His car tires were also slashed. His surveillance video caught the vandal. Riles was the victim of a prior incident when his front window was shot out with a pellet gun.
“That’s why I got the video cameras,” he said. “I wanted to be able to help. In the video, you can see my truck just sinking lower and lower.”
Riles said he feels just as safe today as he did the day of the incident. He said the investigators took fingerprints and other measurements, and he thought they did a thorough job. Riles estimated the damage at $500.
According to Hart, the cameras from some of the businesses show a single suspect, however, he cautioned the cameras might not have picked up others if they were present. He said the subject appeared to be a black male.
Anyone who has a company or a house in the area with video cameras that may have caught the incidents on recording are asked to bring the recording to the Sebring Police Department. Anyone with tips or information can call Sebring Police Department at 863-471-5107 or remain anonymous and call Heartland Crime Stoppers and possibly receive a reward at 800-226-8477.