ASHLAND — Police are trying to solve a string of vehicle vandalisms that left 16 cars with slashed tires and 34 with etched windshields last week.

ASHLAND — Police are trying to solve a string of vehicle vandalisms that left 16 cars with slashed tires and 34 with etched windshields last week.

The 50 cases occurred between Tuesday night and Saturday morning, Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said Monday.

Police are unsure whether the two types of vandalism are related, he said.

"We don't know enough right now to tell," he said. "Slashing and etching are different enough that it's probably not the same people, but on the other hand, the cases are close enough in time and place that it's possible."

A dozen windshields of cars parked primarily on Lincoln, Garfield, Wightman and Fifth streets were etched late Tuesday or early Wednesday, police said. Late Thursday or early Friday, 22 more windshields of cars parked primarily in the downtown area were etched, according to the police reports.

Many of the cars had the words "rat," "pig," "meth," "AIDS" and "HIV" etched in their windshields, and at least one car had the phrase "luv meth" etched in its windshield, said Officer Bon Stewart with the Ashland Police Department.

Holderness said police don't yet know the motive behind the etchings.

"I don't have any idea at this point," he said. "They would appear to be random, but they might mean something to the person doing them."

The tire slashing occurred late Friday or early Saturday, police said.

The cars in those cases were parked primarily on Wightman, California, Quincy and Garfield streets near Ashland High School and Southern Oregon University.

There appears to be no connection between the vehicles or their owners, Holderness said.

All of the cars that were vandalized were parked on the street, so police are advising people to park off the street or in well-lit, well-traveled areas if possible, Holderness said.

"That's a good idea if you have someplace off the street to park," he said. "Also, check your car and keep an eye on it."

Residents should report car vandalism to police immediately, Holderness said. If they witness the vandalism, they should not attempt to confront the person, Holderness said.

"Both etching and slashing tires require a sharp object, so it's probably reasonable to assume that the person is armed," he said.

Police believe the slashing was done with a knife, but it's unclear what object was used to etch the windshields, Holderness said.

One of the cars that had its windshield etched also had its convertible top slashed, he said. It's possible that case is a "transition case" between the etching and slashing crimes, he said.

Police have no suspects in the cases, but they are following up on leads, Holderness said.

A few people reported seeing a group of teenagers in the areas where the vandalism occurred, around the time they occurred, but police are unsure whether the teens are connected to the vandalism, he said.

"There are teenagers in the area all the time this time of year, so I have no idea whether that's related," Holderness said.

Solving the cases is a priority for the department, he said.

"I have two people doing nothing but crime analysis, going through the reports, looking for something we might have missed," he said.

Anyone with information on the car vandalism cases is asked to contact the Ashland Police Department at 541-482-5211.

Hannah Guzik is a reporter at the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach her at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.