Neighbors in gated community say vandalism tied to renter tension

Residents in Rancho Mirage Country Club upset about vandalism in their community

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - An act of vandalism has left residents in a Rancho Mirage community concerned about their safety.  What's more troubling, some think it's the work of a neighbor.  A closer look at a car parked in front of one of the homes at the Sunrise Country Club, shows marks from someone keying it, all up and down the sides. Sheriff's deputies say someone vandalized the car and a truck parked in front of the home. "Somebody had taken paint remover or something, it looked like they had sprayed down the side of it, on the engine hood, the paint was all bubbling off on the road," said Gordon Needs, who works at the country club.  

You can still see white paint chips from the vandalism in the yard.  The owners of the cars didn't want to go on camera, but their neighbors did, voicing outrage that something like this could happen where they live. "This is a wonderful community in which to live," said Jay Conley.  "It's totally surprising that this could happen, and I'm saddened." 

But it gets worse for Conley.  He thinks the person who did it, lives inside the gates of the country club.  "We have only what I can describe as a nutcase in the community who's willing to vandalize vehicles," said Conley. 

He believes the couple was being targeted, because they're renting the home, unlike many others in the community.  He also says tensions rose because of something residents often complain about when it comes to renters, parking. "Some of the neighbors had issues with folks parking along side the street rather than parking in the driveway, something fairly minor," said Conley. 

While there's no way to confirm a motive yet, the possible conflict with renters comes as some valley cities try to tighter their rental ordinances.  Rancho Mirage is planning to up its age requirement from 21 to 30.  Conley says all of this is misguided because in his opinion, renters only benefit his community and the valley.  "I would love to have renters here who are here year round, who have their children here, who have their grandchildren here, we don't have enough as far as I'm concerned," said Conley. 

The sheriff's department says this is an ongoing investigation and they are looking for suspects.

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