Thereâ€™s something unsavory, and I dare say cowardly going on behind the Florida Museum of Natural History. The facility located at the University of Florida, Gainesville is a gorgeous one with an entrancing butterfly rainforest exhibit and a Hall of Florida Fossils that a person can easily spend an entire day in alone. I visited the museum with my wife and kids a while ago and we all felt that it was worth the day trip drive. But we didnâ€™t know that a unique predator of sorts had been prowling nearby.
The researchers who work at the museum and the adjoining Bartram-Carr Hall are proud of their work and arenâ€™t shy about letting the world know what they do. They display Darwin Fish emblems on their cars and some even have bumper stickers along the lines of â€œSmile, you are an ape!â€ and â€œEvolution is a fact.â€ But itâ€™s obvious that someone isnâ€™t amused. Vandals have struck.
It started small. Darwin Fish emblems would be ripped off cars a few times a year. Undeterred, the victims would simply replace them. Then bumper stickers were scraped off. Then notes containing prayers were left on cars. And now the vandal has apparently taken the next step: driving nails into tires. One researcher said she discovered a long nail had been deliberately forced into the side rim of her new tire, destroying it. Another researcher had both front tires ruined by long nails. These incidents all happened in a parking lot behind Bartram-Carr Hall.
[edited to add: There is erroneous information going around that the victims had never reported these incidents to the university police department. In fact, there were multiple reports filed. The latest incident was filed with the police on June 23, 2011. Case report number was 11-1178. ]
So far, there appear to be no leads on who the vandal is, or even how many vandals there may be. Please spread the word about this and if you happen to be in the area be vigilant. Ripping an emblem off a car and leaving notes full of prayers is annoying and wrong, but destroying tires is on another level. And who knows if the vandalism will escalate even further?
[Two photos below the fold.]