Vandals over the holiday weekend slashed one tire each on 33 Oregon Department of Health and Human Services vehicles, most of them used by child-welfare employees.
Medford police estimated the damage totaled $3,300 on the cars, used by employees of the department's child welfare and self-sufficiency divisions.
"It was probably done with something similar to a pocketknife," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. "It was a stab into the side wall, which is not repairable."
All the tires had to be replaced.
DHS employees discovered the damage when they arrived Wednesday at their offices at 909 Royal Court. Police believe the vandalism occurred sometime between Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.
The vehicles are parked in an unsecured parking lot that is not monitored by video cameras.
"Hopefully that'll change in the future," Budreau said, adding DHS was still replacing tires Thursday. "It certainly caused an inconvenience."
DHS Child Welfare oversees the safety and well-being of youth coming from homes where sexual abuse, drug abuse or domestic violence is suspected.
"Sometimes they have to take children into protective custody. That's when you see emotions go high for obvious reasons," Budreau said.
He added the vandalism could have been in response to a child being taken into department custody.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there is something to that," he said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Medford Police Criminal Investigations Division at 541-774-2230 or Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon at 1-800-850-0580.
Through Crime Stoppers, Mercedes-Benz of Medford will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and filing of charges. Callers can remain anonymous.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.