Ice Pick Bandit strikes again: Will the feds step in?

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Air lines cut in apparent 'Ice Pick Bandit' attack
The Ice Pick Bandit's latest work -- cutting air lines as well as stabbing up tires in what's become an eerie pattern of attack.

I-75's notorious Ice Pick Bandit has struck again, this time in Turner County, Georgia, hitting a truck and trailer's tires and cutting its brake lines as well.

"One of my owner operators had his trailer lines cut and 11 tires punctured in Sycamore, Georgia, at the southbound rest area" at mile marker 78, said a representative from Southern Pride Trucking. The attack occurred in the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 2, while the driver "was parked overnight on an exit ramp. He did make a police report to authorities in Georgia."  

Like the majority of other known cases, it happened with the driver parked on an off-ramp. And luckily, the driver noticed the vandalism before taking off, and got the truck fixed.

I tried repeatedly to get the Turner County Sheriff's Office comment on the case, also to see if the county had coordinated with any other jurisdictions. The Ice Pick Bandit, known to pretty much every tire shop up and down I-75 in south Georgia and north Florida, has vandalized trucks for almost a year now -- that we know of. 

I informed contacts within the Florida Highway Patrol of the recent incident in Georgia, hoping to spur some cooperation between the states, maybe an escalation of the case. FHP said it referred that information to its Criminal Bureau Section, which is assigned to investigate these incidents, but did not share steps FHP had taken in the investigation. 

In June of last year, FHP put out a press release and images of a suspect. Yet despite a statewide effort from FHP, the bandit (or a collection of them, as it were) remains on the loose.

[Related: Ice Pick Bandit still attacking trucks]

Turner County, Georgia, isn't alone in their silence. No one from the Georgia statewide Department of Public Safety responded to my queries. Neither FMCSA field offices in the region nor the FBI would speak on the record after notification about the cross-border crime spree. 

Whoever has attacked at least 15 trucks up and down I-75 does so with an intimate knowledge of tractors and trailers, inflicting maximal damage in a way that's hard to detect. For example: Using a tiny poker implement to puncture a tire's sidewall ensures the punctures will be hard to see, the tires will deflate slowly, and there will be no loud sounds to alert the driver. 

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Plenty truckers, however, catch the bandit's overnight work during a pre-trip inspection.

But what if someone doesn't? 

Cutting brake lines and rendering tires unsafe doesn't just cost owners money (sometimes as much as $15,000), it of course renders the roads unsafe. 

Safety-focused federal officials should be motivated to take action. With this bandit (or these bandits, as the case may be) on the loose, it's only a matter of time until one of these egregious acts of sabotage causes an accident, injury or fatality.

Or, according to some truckers, it's only a matter of time before the bandit is caught in the act by the wrong driver -- one willing to take justice into his/her own hands. I can only hope leads bear fruit and neither scenario materializes. Investigators should step up to the plate and end these attacks. 

[Related: I-75 'Ice Pick Bandit' caught on tape?]

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