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Suspect in College Bicycle Vandalism Identified

October 25, 2013

Vandalism to the bicycle of an Iowa Lakes Community College professor was investigated this week by the Estherville Police Department – and in the end, it came to a positive resolution.

Matt Strom, Associate Professor of Mathematics, reported that on Wednesday, Oct. 23, he rode his bike to the Estherville campus – just like he does most days.  He parked his bike in the rack by Entrance #17, locked it and walked inside to begin his day.

Sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., somebody vandalized it.  The bike had a broken headlight and taillights, one tire ruined, and a sticky substance left on it.

On Thursday morning, Strom decided to ask colleagues at the Estherville campus if anyone had seen anything suspicious the previous day.

“Since this happened in broad daylight in a fairly busy area, there is a decent chance somebody saw something,” Strom wrote in his email to fellow faculty members and staff.  “If you come across any information, let me know.”

By early-afternoon Thursday, the suspect was caught in the act.

Here’s how Strom explained it to employees:

“The bicycle vandal returned today.  The monster tore up the seat and flattened the front tire, again in broad daylight.  I called the police.  They came out, took some pictures, and are filing a report…”

Shortly after the call to the police department, the answer to all this destruction became perfectly clear – right in broad daylight – when Aviation/Airport Management co-coordinator and Chief Flight Instructor Ron Duer came upon the scene.

“Ron Duer caught the perpetrator in the act and even got a picture,” Strom wrote in a second email.

“It was the meanest squirrel you have ever seen.”

In retrospect, it answers a lot of questions for employees who consider their campus a pretty safe place.

“I was wondering why a vandal wouldn’t just kick in the spokes or something,” Strom said.  The squirrel “…did all the damage to soft material with … teeth.”

The result will be costly.

“Over two days of squirrel madness I’m out two tires, a bike seat, a headlight and taillight (the lights had silicone buttons or rubber gaskets that the squirrel attacked).” 

While it will likely be pretty hard for Strom to get reimbursed from the perpetrator, he at least has his faith restored in humankind.

“It’s a relief to know what happened and not be left wondering ‘What kind of a person would do such a thing, and are they still around doing more bad things?’”

Now, Strom is left with his next test.

“…I have to match wits with a squirrel.  A squirrel with no regard for property or the feelings of others,” he said. 

“My dog has been telling me for years that squirrels are bad news and can’t be trusted.  Now I know how right he is.” 

The moral of the story:  Always listen to your dog.

The culprit, a squirrel, caught in the act of vandalizing the bicycle of Iowa Lakes Professor Matt Strom.
The culprit, a squirrel, caught in the act of vandalizing the bicycle of Iowa Lakes Professor Matt Strom.

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