Post-109: Anti-Prius Vandalism in Arlington

I was puzzled to hear that somebody slashed the tires of 15 “Prius” hybrid cars in Arlington, Virginia (my place of birth) overnight recently. Only Priuses were targeted. Local NBC-News reported it.

What could the tire-slasher’s motivation be?

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I am puzzled and intrigued about the motivation of a Prius Tire Slasher.

I guess the only “profile” that makes sense is that the perpetrator has a grudge against the type who would buy a Prius (whatever that type is supposed to be). “In the interest of full disclosure”, my mother has a Prius, and has had it for something like six years. I don’t think she’s necessarily a “type”, though. She lives in Arlington, but quite far away from these slashings.

Three other scenarios are plausible:

  1. The act of an insane person.
  2. A dare by a group of kids.
  3. A “false flag” incident to make it look like the kind of thing described in the paragraph above, to drum up support for a perceived cause. This has been known to happen a lot, and national media has been tricked more than a few times, so it’d be foolish to discount the possibility.

These categories are not mutually exclusive. A #3 perpetrator would very probably also be, to some extent, a #1.

The reporter in the video, Pat Collins, gives some of the street names (amid his melodramatic delivery). It seems these crimes happened near North Taylor and 17th streets, near the southern end of zip-code 22207.

PictureZip Code 22207

Some facts about 22207 (according to the American Enterprise Institute):

  • 71%: Percent of resident adults over age 25 had a college degree in 2000, way above the national average.**
  • $150,000 (2010 dollars): The average yearly household income for the entire zip code. The streets reportedly affected are below U.S.-29 (Lee Highway), so the car-owners may be some of the lowest-income in this zip code, perhaps below $100,000. The really rich live further north, well above U.S.-29.***
  • 22207 was the highest-income zip-code in Arlington County in 2000, and probably still is.

** This is compared to about 25% nationwide. And actually, 22207 is not the “most educated” zip code in Arlington. That is 22201 (the core of the Orange Line Metro corridor), where 74% of over-25s held college degrees in 2000. The least-educated zip code in Arlington was 22204 (the heart of “South Arlington”), where only 38% of adults over age-25 held a college degree back in 2000; probably higher today after steady gentrification.

***Relative wealth in the USA is easy to guess from maps: Neat street grids are usually a sign of lower relative wealth, e.g. the section of zip code 22207 south of U.S.-29 (Lee Highway) on the map above, where the tire-slashings took place. The really rich parts of North Arlington are all well north of Lee Highway, where the road pattern tends to lose coherence and disintegrate; twisting, turning, “cul-de-sac-ing”. This is because the rich (in the USA) want to be left alone, I guess. Those neighborhoods are not easily accessible. Interestingly, it’s exactly the opposite in Korea, and I suspect much of the rest of Asia, too. The Gangnam district of Seoul is all laid out in a perfect grid, as are all the “new cities”. If you find twisting and turning roads in Korea, and there are plenty, it means “old and poor”.