Editorial | Good, bad news on I-74 window shatterings

Editorial | Good, bad news on I-74 window shatterings

One of the strangest and meanest vandalism cases in memory has apparently come to an end.

The arrest of a Wisconsin truck driver in connection with a series of vandalism incidents on Interstate 74 comes as a welcome relief to the community.

The spree, in which the trucker allegedly used a slingshot to fling ball bearings that smashed vehicle windows, posed a major threat to public safety that cannot be minimized.

Neither can the length and breadth of this case.

Authorities report that there were at least 45 vandalism incidents that occurred in four Illinois counties (Champaign, Vermilion, Piatt and DeWitt) between late March and the June 1 arrest of 53-year-old Kevin Lee Casey of Janesville, Wis.

Further, authorities in two other states — West Virginia and Indiana — are investigating reports of similar incidents.

Considering that authorities said they caught Casey in the act of smashing another vehicle window as they prepared to execute a search warrant on his semi, it's obvious that he is in serious legal jeopardy, potentially accountable in multiple cases in multiple counties in multiple states.

It remains to be seen what specifically motivated these mindless, viciously mean and highly dangerous acts. But it would appear that this particular vandal viewed his conduct as simple recreation — crime for nothing other than the fun of it.

What a perverse perspective on the world.

The public must wait and see how these cases proceed.

But there are a couple of firm conclusions to draw about what transpired.

For starters, the street-level investigators and officers with the Illinois State Police did an excellent job in bringing this case to a conclusion.

Using victim reports to determine the pattern of the offenses and video of a suspect vehicle to identify a wrongdoer, investigators were able to build their case in a way that allowed them to surveil the suspect and then make an arrest.

The trucker, who is being held on $2 million bond in the Champaign County Jail, reportedly acknowledged his conduct in interviews with investigators.

So while authorities say there is still work to be done in determining the extent of the vandalism spree, the case itself appears to be all wrapped with a bow on top.

The street-level police grunts who did the hard work to make this case deserve whatever plaudits come their way.

It's too bad the same thing cannot be said of their superiors — the upper-level law-enforcement bureaucrats at the state police. They deserve nothing but scorn for their willful failure to warn the public about the extent of what was happening on the interstates they oversee and the danger that it posed to the thousands of people who used them.

How could they, in good conscience, have kept silent for so long without using the public platform they have to let the public at large know about such a serious threat?

This spree started in late March.

The upper command at Pesotum may not have initially understood the potential scope of this vandalism spree.

But how long could it have taken for them to catch on to what was going on?

How long after that should they have issued a warning? Immediately.

Readers should recall that this information initially became public after one of the victims described her experience on a May 2 Facebook post.

From there, the information spread like wildfire into the news media because of the significant public interest and concern. Only after they had no choice did the state police address the issue, and even then, they did so in such a way as to minimize an ongoing threat to public safety.

One can almost hear the self-serving bleatings of those responsible for this incredible lapse of judgment — the fear that public disclosure would undermine the investigation.

That's an old saw, one that sometimes has merit. But it does not apply here.

The vandal knew what he was doing — week after week, month after month — and he knew the state police knew. Only the public was, by inexcusable design, left out of the equation.

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