Northeast Times

Tired out

— The man charged with dozens of tire slash­ings is no stranger to the area.

Start­Frag­ment

The months-long epi­dem­ic of car-tire slash­ing im­pacted dozens of May­fair res­id­ents, but from the be­gin­ning Dav­id Toledo seemed dif­fer­ent.

It was the way he led the ral­ly­ing cry for neigh­bors to form a “block watch” but failed to show up for the re­quired cer­ti­fic­a­tion, com­munity lead­ers say. It was how he be­moaned his vic­tim­iz­a­tion while glow­ing in the spot­light of news-me­dia cov­er­age.

Toledo spoke of vi­gil­ante justice with the pas­sion of a Charles Bron­son char­ac­ter and the aus­ter­ity of a Poe nov­el.

Last Wed­nes­day, Phil­adelphia po­lice and the dis­trict at­tor­ney named Toledo as the man re­spons­ible for most of the de­struc­tion, char­ging him with van­dal­iz­ing 55 cars in the neigh­bor­hood, in­clud­ing his own, then re­peatedly present­ing him­self to po­lice as an in­no­cent vic­tim.

“I keep re­mem­ber­ing when he was say­ing, ‘I can’t wait ’til we catch him. We’re gonna hold him down and break all his fin­gers,’” said Kar­en Woldsmit, re­call­ing how Toledo, her next-door neigh­bor, would speak of the tire slash­er in the third per­son.

“He said we’d tie him up, beat him up and break his fin­gers,” neigh­bor Ry­an Mc­Con­nell said, quot­ing Toledo’s rap­id-fire threats.

Toledo, 44, of the 4000 block of Aldine St., re­mains in pris­on in lieu of $270,000 bail while await­ing a May 3 ar­raign­ment on two felony counts of crim­in­al mis­chief, 47 mis­de­mean­or counts of crim­in­al mis­chief, sev­en counts of pos­sess­ing an in­stru­ment of crime and five counts of fil­ing false re­ports.

Po­lice ar­res­ted Toledo at his home at about 3 p.m. last Wed­nes­day, cul­min­at­ing three months of sur­veil­lance and in­vest­ig­a­tion that ate up hun­dreds of po­lice man-hours.

“I want to thank the com­munity for their pa­tience as de­tect­ives and the 15th dis­trict in­vest­ig­ated this,” said Deputy Com­mis­sion­er Thomas Wright.

Au­thor­it­ies re­fused to de­tail spe­cif­ic evid­ence against Toledo, how they be­lieve he op­er­ated and his motive.

Po­lice sources con­firmed to the North­east Times that Toledo was a sus­pect early on in the probe. Yet it took in­vest­ig­at­ors time to col­lect enough evid­ence to pin a pat­tern of crim­in­al be­ha­vi­or on him and build a stronger case.

“This is a long time com­ing to­geth­er, but with hard work we got it solved,” said Capt. Jack Mc­Gin­nis of North­east De­tect­ives.

• • •

The rash of tire-slash­ing in­cid­ents began in Janu­ary and con­tin­ued at least through April 16, au­thor­it­ies have said.

The news me­dia began re­port­ing heav­ily about it in mid-Feb­ru­ary, after at least 25 cars were tar­geted in two epis­odes with­in a week. The dam­age oc­curred on Toledo’s block and the 4000 block of Tees­dale St.

On Feb. 20, Capt. Frank Bach­may­er, com­mand­er of the 15th dis­trict, called an emer­gency meet­ing of neigh­bors at the po­lice sta­tion to dis­cuss pre­ven­tion strategies. Toledo was in at­tend­ance.

After the ses­sion, Bach­may­er vowed 24-hour cov­er­age of the af­fected blocks. Yet the in­cid­ents per­sisted and of­ten oc­curred dur­ing shift changes or amid oth­er brief win­dows when po­lice were not mon­it­or­ing the block.

Lo­gic told au­thor­it­ies that who­ever was do­ing it was prob­ably close to the block and aware of po­lice tac­tics.

“The level of be­tray­al here is very dis­turb­ing,” said Milt Mar­telack, pres­id­ent of the May­fair Town Watch. “He be­trayed the Town Watch, the po­lice de­part­ment, the com­munity.”

• • •

Mar­telack’s group as­sisted the Ta­cony-Holmes­burg Town Watch in mon­it­or­ing the area dur­ing the crisis. May­fair cov­ers the ter­rit­ory west of Frank­ford Av­en­ue. Ta­cony-Holmes­burg cov­ers east of Frank­ford Av­en­ue, in­clud­ing the most-af­fected blocks.

Al­though iden­ti­fied as a Town Watch or Block Watch mem­ber in many news re­ports, Toledo was neither.

Town Watch mem­bers patrol com­munit­ies, while Block Watch mem­bers act from their own homes look­ing out for sus­pi­cious activ­ity.

“He made no ef­fort to be­come a Town Watch mem­ber. He in­vest­ig­ated the pro­cess and nev­er fol­lowed through,” Mar­telack said. “He was not even a cer­ti­fied mem­ber of Block Watch.”

Toledo, de­scribed by neigh­bors as an out-of-work su­per­mar­ket butcher, of­ten told them he walked the streets at night look­ing for the mys­ter­i­ous tire slash­er.

“He was a self-pro­claimed Town Watch mem­ber, a self-pro­claimed Block Watch mem­ber,” Mar­telack said. “He claimed he patrolled the streets. That’s in ques­tion.”

• • •

Joe Nicoletti, pres­id­ent of the Ta­cony-Holmes­burg Town Watch, said that his group plans to hold a May 10 meet­ing at Ta­cony Baptist Church, He­ger­man and Dis­ston streets, to re­cruit more mem­bers and hear about neigh­bor­hood crime trends.

Last Wed­nes­day night, the spec­tacle on Toledo’s block fea­tured at least a half-dozen TV news crews, dozens of neigh­bors chat­ting about Toledo’s ar­rest, and po­lice guard­ing against dis­turb­ances.

At one point, a seni­or wo­man ex­ited Toledo’s house, only for a pack of TV-cam­era op­er­at­ors to storm her porch. The wo­man rushed back in­side for a mo­ment, then emerged with a small dog on a leash, hur­ry­ing down the block as TV re­port­ers shoved mi­cro­phones in her face.

A short time later, a wo­man be­lieved to have been Toledo’s wife opened the door and in­vited one re­port­er in­side for an in­ter­view, leav­ing the oth­ers out­side grumbling.

Yvonne Toledo re­portedly told CB­S3 that her hus­band is in­no­cent.

“Right, wrong or in­dif­fer­ent, I stand be­side my hus­band, and in my heart I don’t be­lieve he did it,” she said. “I just think this is an epis­ode of cir­cum­stances.”

The couple moved in­to the Aldine Street house with­in the last year, neigh­bors said.

“He was the new guy on the block. Noth­ing like this ever happened be­fore. Whatever he was try­ing to be, it back­fired on him,” said neigh­bor Mike Wag­n­er.

Mc­Gin­nis, the de­tect­ive cap­tain, said that Toledo has a his­tory of sim­il­ar be­ha­vi­or, but re­fused to de­tail pri­or in­cid­ents in­volving the sus­pect. Toledo’s crim­in­al re­cord shows a 2000 con­vic­tion for driv­ing while un­der the in­flu­ence and a 2005 ar­rest for har­ass­ment and crim­in­al mis­chief that was later dis­missed.

Bach­may­er hopes things stay quiet on Aldine Street and sur­round­ing blocks now that the al­leged tire slash­er is be­hind bars, and that vic­tims res­ist the tempta­tion to re­tali­ate.

“Let the justice sys­tem handle Mis­ter Toledo,” Bach­may­er said. ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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