The West Columbia Police Department is looking for a suspect in connection with the vandalism of vehicles in retail parking lots.
According to Chief Dennis Tyndall, warrants have been issued for John Patrick Sykes, 34, of 304 Bub Wise Road, Swansea. Sykes is charged with four counts of malicious injury to real property in incidents that happened between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2.
Tyndall said three incidents occurred in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Augusta Road and one incident, in the Bi-Lo parking lot on Augusta Road.
Tyndall said Sykes would wait until a driver entered the store, then he would pull his vehicle close to the victim's vehicle, quickly get under it and cut the line to the fuel pump.
Sykes then would pull away and wait for the victim to enter the vehicle. When it wouldn't start, Sykes would identify himself as a mechanic and offer to repair it for a fee.
The Columbia Police Department and the Lexington County Sheriff's Department have seen similar incidents and are investigating whether Sykes might have been involved.
Anyone who has had a similar experience is urged to contact a local law enforcement agency.
Sykes is approximately 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 145 pounds. He drives a 1995 turquoise Camaro with t-tops and a late 1990s model green Ford Explorer.
- Staff Reports