In four separate incidents from Dec. 31 through Feb. 7, numerous residents of the Northfield Apartments, an income-qualified rental complex in Conservatory Green, had their tires slashed. In total, 54 vehicles in the parking lot and surrounding streets were vandalized by an unknown suspect(s), with some vehicles damaged more than once.
“It’s been very challenging for our residents,” said Brandi Stevenson, the on-site Healthy Homes Healthy Living program officer, noting there is a lot of emotion and stress when people can’t get to work or get groceries due to transportation problems.
In response, Conservatory Green resident Marcus Tuepker started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the repair or replacement of their tires.
“I walk to Target almost every day, and I walked by the apartment complex and saw all the flat tires and was shocked by it,” said Tuepker. When he went to the complex to offer his help, he found a tow truck driver already assisting, but it became clear that funds to replace the tires were needed, “so it just seemed like the natural next step to see if we could raise the money.”
Over the course of about five days, the campaign raised $3,440 (after fees, $3,138.43), from nearly 100 people, most of them immediate neighbors. Tuepker noted there was an uptick in outside donations after a poorly researched article in Westword criticized the fundraising efforts. The article poked fun at Stapleton, incorrectly assuming that the funding campaign involved affluent neighbors contributing to other affluent neighbors. The silver lining was that the blowback on social media from the inaccurate Westword article resulted in greater interest in the incident and perhaps more donations.
Northeast Denver Housing Center and Ross Management, who manage the complex, have decided to match the funds raised by the community campaign, bringing the total to $6,276.86. The funds were distributed based on how many tires each had to replace. The 31 residents who had tires slashed once each received $114.12, for example, while the unfortunate one whose tires were slashed four times received $456.48, with proportional amounts for the 16 who experienced two slashings and the seven who were slashed three times.
Stevenson, who helped coordinate the disbursements, is grateful for the efforts of Tuepker and the surrounding community, not only for the financial assistance but for “bridging the gap” between residents and their new neighborhood.
Councilman Herndon’s office helped facilitate the repair of street lighting by Xcel, which will better illuminate the parking areas. Lt. Ian Culverhouse says the police have been investigating the incidents but to date have not identified any suspects. Stevenson said the complex has installed additional surveillance measures and is just “praying another incident doesn’t happen.”