Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A disagreement over a parking spot ended in felony property damage charges for one Farmington teen.
Investigators say 18-year-old Helbert Zalaya vandalized his neighbor’s van on several occasions last fall.
Mark Tilc never gave much thought to where he parked his van. The spot across the street from his Farmington home always seemed convenient, at least, until last October.
“It was getting egged, egg on the windshield, egg on the side door,” he said.
Tilc soon realized the vandalism was not a one-time issue. On 10 separate occasions, Tilc would walk out of his home to find his van egged, or worse. The worst damage included a long scratch from the front to back bumper.
Mark suspected his neighbor, Zalaya. Zalaya’s mother had asked Tilc not to park in front of their home, months earlier.
“I didn’t have any proof of it at that point, so I went and got an infrared camera and set it up in various hidden places, so they couldn’t tell,” Tilc said.
With cameras hidden around his property, Tilc finally got what he was looking for on video — a person caught on tape vandalizing his vehicle.
“It was pretty obvious it was him,” Tilc said.
With proof in hand, a felony charge of property soon followed.
“It’s extremely helpful in criminal cases if you have…the suspect’s image on film. So in this case, it was critical,” said Jim Backstrom, the Dakota County attorney.
Mark wants reimbursement for $2,000 in damage; but more importantly, he wants a peaceful neighborhood.
Zelaya could get up to a year in prison if convicted. When asked why he didn’t park somewhere else, Tilc said parking is very limited in the area.