South Lake Tahoe incidents involving ‘ninja road stars’ stop; no leads in case |

South Lake Tahoe incidents involving ‘ninja road stars’ stop; no leads in case

Claire Cudahy
Kimmi Phelps captured this photo of the caltrop that punctured her tire in the Crescent V Shopping Center in South Lake Tahoe on Nov. 23.
Courtesy / Kimmi Phelps |

After roughly a month of punctured tires from intentionally placed spikes in the roads — and with an estimated 100 incidents — the reports of “ninja road stars” terrorizing the streets of South Lake Tahoe appear to have stopped.

“It’s died down,” said Jesse Starkey, assistant manager at Les Schwab Tire Center in South Lake Tahoe. “The last one we saw was at least a couple of weeks ago.”

For a period of time in November and December, Les Schwab was patching up two to three tires a day.

“They fell off immediately after all the news attention,” added Lt. Brian Williams, spokesman for the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Beyond local coverage, news of the small metal spikes piercing tires in South Lake Tahoe caught the attention of media outlets in San Francisco, Sacramento and Reno, and was widely shared through social media at the beginning of December.

The “ninja road stars,” or caltrops, can be easily purchased online, and the locations of the incidents were scattered throughout the city and county, making it difficult to investigate, according to Williams.

Though SLTPD took down incident reports, no leads or suspects were ever identified.

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