Smart Car owners not laughing over car-tipping


Vandals gave several San Francisco car owners a rude awakening Monday morning. Four Smart Cars were found flipped over or turned on their sides in the city's Bernal Heights and Portola neighborhoods, leaving shattered glass and scraped body panels.

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating it as felony vandalism.

The incidents prompted jokes Monday about cow tipping, but for the cars' owners, it was anything but funny.

Wendy Orner, who lives in Ohio, inherited a white Smart Car from her San Francisco father, who died in January. 

"He liked the fact that it was eco-friendly, and it didn't take a lot of room in a city like San Francisco," said Orner by phone. "He said it was easy to get around in."

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On Monday, Orner's car lay on its side in Bernal Heights. She was planning to visit the city to sell the car, but said she'll have to get it repaired first.

"Obviously, I feel very helpless being the victim of this because I live in another state," said Orner. "I'm having to deal with this on top of a new baby and my father passing away."

A witness described the vandals as a group of eight men wearing black sweatshirts with hoods. And while some Smart Car owners at the San Francisco dealership said they were nervous, others said the incidents prompted a painful flashback.

The director of one San Francisco company that did not wish to be named said he cut back on company use of eight Smart Cars after a delivery driver had his vehicle flipped over in the city's Bayview neighborhood two years ago.

"He had finished making a delivery, he came out to a group of maybe eight to 10 young men of like flipping over his car," an employee said. "They were just laughing and having fun. And yeah, our driver was pretty shocked. We had no idea it could be easily flipped over like that."

YouTube hosts videos showing Smart Cars in Europe being tipped over as far back as 2008. The cars weigh under 1,800 pounds, making them easy for a group to lift, much like cows or Volkswagen Beetles in the 60's and 70's.

"[Smart Cars are] very light cars so I thought it was very possible that they could be tipped over by people," said European Collision Center owner Dennis Kirkpatrick. "We've pushed them around the shop very easily."



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