NC Vacations: Hatteras Island
The National Park Service believes it finally caught the notorious vandal responsible for slashing 60-plus tires this year at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, mostly on sport utility vehicles like Jeeps.
Investigators say the suspect “was caught in the act of slashing vehicle tires” at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Salvo area, according to a National Park Service press release.
Park rangers identified the suspect as Richard Perrot, WITN reported.
The 62-year-old East Lake resident was scheduled to be in federal court late Monday in Elizabeth City, per WVEC.
East Lake is a town on the mainland across the Croatan Sound from the Outer Banks.
Prior to his court appearance, Perrot was being held in the Dare County Detention Center, according to OBX Today.
“The suspect was arrested in the parking lot of Ramp 23 ... after National Park Service Rangers and Fish and Wildlife Officers observed him in the act of puncturing tires on a Jeep Cherokee,” said the release.
The National Park Service did not give details of the arrest, and did not release a motive.
Sixty-six tires have been found slashed in Cape Hatteras parking lots since the start of the year, officials said.
“Additional tires have been slashed north of the Seashore,” said the release. “The majority of the vehicles that were vandalized were sport utility vehicles.”
The National Park Service first reported the issue in July, noting seven vehicles had been vandalized between July 11 and July 21, most of them Jeep Wranglers. In some cases, all four tires and the spare were punctured, officials said.
Off-road vehicles are popular on the Outer Banks and are allowed to travel on some beaches — a controversial form of recreation that some critics say threatens wildlife. Last year, a wild horse was killed when it was hit by an off-road vehicle in the Corolla area, reported the Charlotte Observer.
“Driving on the beach is gross and needs to end,” posted John Hendricks on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Facebook page.
“It’s devolved from sportsman out for a good fish to groups of kids huddled around the beer cooler listening to loud music and drunk driving on the beach. Driving on the beach is after all counter to what the NPS’s mission statement is,” he wrote.
The National Park Service says all the vandalism cases occurred in paved parking lots and not on beaches.