Three men have been arrested for causing $30,000 in damage to seven Toyota vehicles at the Chicago Auto Show, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today.
The men told police they were angry about American jobs being sent overseas, the newspaper said. Each was charged with one felony count of criminal damage to property.
The three slashed seats and tore up interiors of a RAV4, a Prius, a Land Cruiser, two Tundras and a Lexus ES 350, the newspaper said. Police caught the men Wednesday night as they used razor knives and flathead screwdrivers to damage the dash and side speaker panels of a Toyota Camry, police said.
Not all the vehicles vandalized were built overseas. While the Prius, the Lexus and the Land Cruiser are made in Japan, the other targeted cars were built in North America. Toyota Motor Co. builds the RAV4 in Woodstock, Ontario. The Tundra is built in San Antonio and the Camry is built in Georgetown, Ky.
The 2010 Camry was listed as the most all-American car, according to the American Index by Cars.com, based on where it is built and the amount of American-made parts it has.
"These gentlemen apparently didn't do their research before they decided to destroy American-made vehicles," Toyota spokesman Curt McAllister said. "Some stereotypes die hard."
McAllister said a Toyota product specialist noticed a couple of vehicles had been damaged and alerted McCormick Place security. Within the hour, they caught the men, who had returned to damage more cars.
The vandalized vehicles were removed and replaced Thursday morning. The incident will not change Toyota's policy about keeping cars open at the auto shows, McAllister said.
"Every automaker goes through a small degree of vandalism on the auto show circuit, whether it's stolen badging or people taking radio knobs," he said. "But we have never seen, at least in one full swoop, this kind of premeditated damage."
The suspects are expected to appear in bond court on Friday.