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Elderly council member accused of damaging cars

After receiving complaints about several cars being scratched, police in Saint Clair believe they have their man....

Posted: Jul. 14, 2018 5:24 PM
Updated: Jul. 14, 2018 5:24 PM

After receiving complaints about several cars being scratched, police in Saint Clair believe they have their man.

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Using surveillance video, police were able to pinpoint the alleged vandal who happens to be a member of borough council.

Newswatch 16 went to Saint Clair and knocked on the councilman's door. We asked him about the damage done to cars on his street.

The elderly councilman strongly denied damaging any vehicles.

"I just walked by the car and my knee gave out. I bent down and walked into my house. I would never do anything like that. I am not that stupid."

That's Saint Clair councilman John Houseknecht giving his account of how his neighbor's car ended up damaged last week in Saint Clair.

But police tell a different story and say the damage on North Third Street was no accident.

Police in Saint Clair tell Newswatch 16 that over the past year, many cars have been vandalized.

One car owner took matters into his own hands and put in security cameras.

Five hours later, police say that person's car was damaged.

Police say video from one of these cameras shows Houseknecht walking past one of the cars and swiping it with his right arm.

The council member who is in his 80s admits being by the car but denies doing any damage.

"I am 81 years old. I don't need this kind of crap! I got a bad ticker and bad legs. I just don't need this," Houseknecht said.

Some people living near Third Street have been careful to make sure their cars are not vandalized.

"It is a concern because you want to protect your property, but I have a carport, and I check them when I come out in the morning," said Melvin Cappel.

But despite the video evidence, Houseknecht calls the accusations against him baseless.

"All of a sudden with these allegations and I am not going to ruin my reputation because my reputation is 100 percent," said Houseknecht.

Police are not releasing the video evidence, saying it is part of their investigation.

But police did tell us criminal mischief charges have been filed in district court and will be mailed to the councilman.

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