PLAINVILLE — Police believe hundreds of screws found on Northwest Drive and Stillwell Drive were placed there intentionally.
“It is our collective belief that it is an intentional act of criminal mischief,” Police Chief Matthew Catania said. Residents have complained of finding hundreds of screws on those streets starting in October.
Local dealerships and tire shops have also reported a sharp increase in repairs and replacements.
Catania said officers are “devoting a significant amount of time” and asked residents not to pick up or move screws they find on the road so that police can collect evidence undisturbed.
“If you see an amount of these screws that’s sizable ... 10, 20 screws on the road, we want to take a look at it in its original state,” Catania said.
He also urged residents to check their tires for screws regularly and added that police will seek to hold anyone charged liable for any damage or injuries.
“If you are the person(s)
doing this, please stop before someone gets hurt (or worse),” he wrote on the department’s Facebook page Tuesday. “If it gets to that point, those responsible will be prosecuted for much more than simple criminal mischief.”
Highway Superintendent Dominick Moschini said a magnetic roller collected roughly 250 screws the first time public works was called to Stillwell Drive.
The department has received four additional calls to Stillwell Drive, between Rosemont Drive and Route 10, as well as Northwest Drive, between Route 177 and Perron Road. Between 50 and 60 screws were collected on those additional cleanups.
Catania said police viewed the initial incident on Stillwell Drive “as a possible accidental dropping of a box or two by a contractor or a worker or somebody just spilling (screws) off of their pickup truck.”
The department began to suspect criminal activity after additional reports in other locations around town. Catania was also confident the initial cleanup on Stillwell Drive was thorough enough to rule out the possibility that follow-up visits were need to collect screws missed the first time.
Public works crews are routinely called upon to clean up screws and other debris from the roads, particularly during the summer, but it’s unusual to find concentrations such as this, Moschini said.
Public works crews are also currently busy cleaning leaves and preparing for winter — last week some employees had to stop their leaf collection to respond to Northwest Drive to remove screws.
“It’s leaf season for us, so we’re under the gun with the snow that’s come early,” Moschini said. “I’ve got other headaches going on.”