North Campus tire slasher arrested

Marty McAndrews

The Austin Police Department arrested a North Campus tire-slashing vigilante after releasing a warrant early Thursday.

Tommy Joe Kelley was involved in at least five separate documented cases of tire slashing in and around the Hyde Park area in the last 16 years.

Kelley is suspected of committing hundreds if not more than a thousand criminal mischief offenses, according to the arrest affidavit. Although he began by using knives, Kelley invented his own puncturing tool that left a mark barely visible to the naked eye, according to the affidavit.

Police charged Kelley, 56, with four counts of unlawful use of a criminal instrument, a third-degree felony.

Kelley’s criminal record dates back to 1973 and includes 500 involvements with APD, 57 arrests and 23 convictions. Kelley’s nearly 40-year-long crime spree spanned three states, six different dates of birth, 44 aliases and numerous social security numbers. His arrests range from burglary to prostitution.

Major spikes in criminal mischief tire offenses from the area in the past three years coincided with Kelley’s jail release dates, according to the affidavit. Police used the Hyde Park Tire Slasher Tracker website, dedicated to reporting tire slashes, to gain more information about Kelley and his mode of operation.

Kelley is also a suspect in approximately 53 cases of smashed car windows in the Hyde Park area in the last four years.