Shelter hit by vandal

Sometime late Nov. 7 or early Nov. 8, someone punctured the tires of five vehicles parked outside the Torres Community Shelter in south Chico. At about the same time, two tires on a car belonging to shelter Coordinator Darrel Dinsmore were slashed as it sat in his driveway across town from the shelter.

The five cars vandalized in the center’s parking lot belonged to residents.

Tami Ritter, the shelter’s executive director, said the center called the Chico Police Department but was told officers do not respond to such incidents.

“I called back and asked Sgt. [Mike] O’Brien if he could at least send a car to let these people know it matters,” Ritter said. “The cars are these homeless people’s last possessions of value.”

The police did respond upon Ritter’s urging and a report was taken. The vandal may well be a former resident who was recently asked to leave the shelter for undisclosed reasons.

Earlier this week Ritter lobbied for assistance by writing letters to all the local tire shops. She said she got two positive responses.

“Les Schwab and Big O both offered to fix the tires for free,” she said. “Before I got the responses from the tire places I was wondering, ‘How can somebody do this—kick someone when they are down and out?’ “

On Tuesday, the last of the five vehicles had new tires courtesy of Les Schwab’s offer of free labor and materials.

"They came out here and did the work," Ritter said. "These people can’t afford to have their vehicles towed anywhere."