Four Mercer teens charged as Christmas vandals

January 9, 2008 9:27:02 AM PST
Four Hamilton Township teenagers in Mercer County, two males and two females, have been arrested and charged in connection with the Christmas night vandalism spree that took aim at dozens of parked cars and trucks.

Two of the teens are adults, and have been identified as Nico Dacayanan and Steven Howarth, both 18 years old.

The teens are alleged to have been riding in Howarth's car when Dacayanan used a metal pipe to smash car door mirrors and some windows on a total of 120 vehicles. That number has steadily grown during the course of the investigation and the damage estimate is now nearly $50,000.

Police say the wandering vandals drove through several neighborhoods in Hamilton Township on a three-hour smashing frenzy on Christmas night, hitting mirrors, windows and headlights.Police were hit with a deluge of calls the next morning, a day that resulted in the taking of damage reports from owners of about 70 vehicles. That number has since grown to upwards of a 120 as more reports came in following the investigation.

According to detectives, the two girls, one 16 and one 17, were also said to be in Howarth's car during certain parts of the vandalism spree and the 16-year-old allegedly committed a portion of the damage.

The 16-year-old girl is a junior at Steinert High School and the 17-year-old girl is a senior at Hamilton High School West. Their names were not made public because they are juveniles.

Dacayanan and Howarth are said to be 2007 graduates of Hamilton High School West.

Investigators were able to make the arrest after tracking them down following several important tips from other teens.

Police say records show the group as bright students with no prior history with the police department. At this point they have no motive to explain the four teens' reckless behavior.

Dacayanan and Howarth have been charged with felony criminal mischief. The girls were charged with lesser-grade criminal mischief.

Anyone who may have been a victim of the vandalism is asked to call Hamilton detectives at (609) 581-4009.