In a mystery that would befit the Sicilian sleuth Inspector Montalbano, police in a mountain village in southern Italy have finally identified the culprit behind a series of slashed tyres.
The transgressor first struck in July, targeting cars parked close to the fortified historic centre of Vastogirardi, a village in the Molise region that is home to about 600 residents.
The tyres of some vehicles were targeted on more than one occasion, leaving villagers wondering whether a vendetta between neighbours or even mafia-style intimidation was to blame.
Four more reports of punctured tyres – all parked in the same area – in late October prompted police to undertake patrols dressed as civilians in their hunt for the culprit.
As the plot thickened, police mounted surveillance cameras and last week found the suspect – a dog named Billy.
Billy, who lives close to where the cars were parked, was captured on camera biting into the tyres of several cars.
“It has been very puzzling, as we couldn’t work out who could possibly be going around cutting tyres, or what the motive would be,” said Remo Scocchera, the deputy mayor of Vastogirardi. “It is a peaceful village – we knew it couldn’t be anyone from outside as we are always aware of any suspicious movements.”
Scocchera said the issue was frustrating and costly for the owners of cars, especially for those who were struck more than once. “It really became a problem – people were unable to drive to work because of the punctured tyres, which cost a lot of money. Fortunately, it has now been resolved, and it’s a positive thing that the perpetrator wasn’t a person in the village.”
Vets said that Billy’s behaviour could be explained by a severe case of gingivitis, which made him gnaw at the tyres in order to relieve the pain. Police are carrying out more checks before officially sanctioning Billy, whose owner will reportedly be responsible for compensating the car owners.