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Ellsworth police investigating loosened lug nuts

Published: Jan. 21, 2018 at 11:07 AM CST
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Update:

The Ellsworth Chief of Police believes someone is loosening lug nuts on tires in the community.

Police issued a warning on Facebook telling people to be vigilant about their car.

Chief Halfhill told Eyewitness News he is worried about the safety of his family.

"Our families are innocent parties in this, and with these actions, they’ve turned our innocent families into possible victims."

He says it all started a few weeks ago with the child of a first responder.

"Their child’s lug nuts had become loose, and the tire came off while traveling, causing minimal damage to their vehicle."

Police investigated, believing it was an isolated incident. Well, until it happened to someone in the community and then again Saturday.

"Another one of our EMTs and an off-duty officer were traveling in Salina yesterday, and one of the front wheels of her vehicle fell off while going down the interstate."

He says it's happening to their personal vehicles. When a Sheriff 's deputy checked his car he found 5 lug nuts loose on his front tire.

"It may be an attack on first responders as a whole. It wasn’t necessarily being done to a law enforcement vehicle but somebody who does provide services for our city and county."

The Chief of Police doesn't want anyone to get hurt. he says you should check the lug nuts on your tires if you live in Ellsworth County to make sure they aren't loose.

"I think somebody believes it’s a joke. It’s a prank. It’s harmless fun that somebody’s wheel may come off while they’re traveling. It’s just it’s not that small scale. There’s just people’s lives at risk here."

The Chief says the person responsible could be charged with criminal trespass, criminal damage to property and if someone is hurt, aggravated battery or manslaughter.

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Police in Ellsworth are warning neighbors about lug nuts being loosened on several local vehicles.

The department says the vehicle belonged to citizens both within the city of Ellsworth and outside.

Police also say there have been reports of wheels coming off vehicles while they are in motion. The vehicles were damaged as a result, but the department says there haven't been any injuries.

The only common theme from the loose lug nuts is that the vehicles belong to first responders including fire, EMS, and police officers. No city vehicles were found with loose bolts, but their personal vehicles were affected.

The police department warns residents to check their wheel lug nuts before using their vehicle.

The Chief Emil Halfhill also has a message for anyone who may be loosening the bolts:

"It may seem like a funny or minor thing to do. But when we find you, you can and will be charged with any damage caused by your mischievous behavior and also take note if anyone is injured as a result you will be charged with that as well."

Police say if you find your lug nuts loose, contact dispatch at 785-472-4416 to speak with an officer about the incident.