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Tossed pumpkins damage east Medford cars

A posse of pumpkin-tossing vandals targeted parked cars in east Medford Thursday night, hurling the orange projectiles at a velocity intense enough to destroy windshields, shear off side mirrors and leave pumpkin-shaped dents in their wake.

Medford police said the owners of the dozen-plus vehicles are still cleaning up the mess, digging pumpkin-y guts and shards of glass out of their cars' interiors. A specific damage estimate was not immediately available, though Medford police speculate it's easily in the thousands of dollars.

"The pumpkin smashing is not too uncommon," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said, adding that a majority of such activity occurs with carved jack-o'-lanterns around Halloween. "Irritating, but not too much of a big inconvenience. This is a whole different ball of wax."

"Because uncarved, they can do a lot of damage. And they have."

Police started receiving reports as early as 8:40 p.m. Thursday. The group of unidentified vandals allegedly struck on Woodbriar Drive, Willow Glen Way, North Modoc Avenue, LaRue Drive and Tahitian Avenue. A witness caught sight of what looked like a smaller gray or silver sport utility vehicle, similar to a Jeep Cherokee or Toyota RAV4.

A majority of the resulting damage was broken windshields, but side mirrors and car bodies also were struck. Investigators are still out taking reports on the affected vehicles.

"In a couple cases, there was such velocity, the pumpkins were actually going through the windshield and shattering the rear windshield," Budreau said. "It sounded like they were being thrown from a moving vehicle."

A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered by Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon for any information leading to an arrest in the case. Budreau said anyone arrested could face first-degree criminal mischief charges — a felony — and a hefty restitution.

Anyone with information about the case should contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-850-0580.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.