GRANVILLE, N.Y.-What do you get when you put about 50 vehicles on a two-lane highway and sprinkle it with tens of thousands of roofing nails? You might say it's a tire dealer's dream come true!
For Bardin's Tire Service Inc., a one-outlet dealership in the small town of Granville, N.Y., it was a veritable windfall.
``We were swamped,'' said Owner Mark Bardin, recalling the numerous flat repair jobs he handled stemming from the Nov. 21 incident when thousands of nails were intentionally strewn over a 5-mile stretch of State Route 149 in Granville.
According to Washington County sheriff's deputies, the roofing nails of various sizes were purposely spread across both lanes and shoulders of the highway during the evening ``drive time,'' between 5:30 p.m. and 5:50 p.m.
For the next couple of hours, calls poured into the sheriff's department.
Sgt. George Bell, at the scene trying to clear traffic, said as cars rolled over the nails it sounded like they were driving studded snow tires. ``It was a real mess,'' he said.
For the rural town bordering Vermont, Route 149 is a major thoroughfare for workers returning home from nearby Glens Falls, N.Y., according to Sgt. Bell.
Authorities closed the road within two hours while state, county and local road crews conducted a temporary cleanup by pushing the nails off to the side of the road before reopening the highway.
The next day, however, there were additional reports of flats on cars that drove too close to the berm. One man was injured when a roofing nail punctured a tire on his pickup truck and the vehicle went over an embankment.
Later on the morning of Nov. 22, the highway was closed again as crews used a large electro-magnet to pick up the nails. In all, the sheriff's department received 47 reports of vehicles with multiple tire flats.
While the search for the culprit or culprits has been ``tough to investigate,'' Sgt. Bell said the department expects to make an arrest soon.
Investigators believe the incident was connected to a drawn-out labor dispute at the nearby Telescope Furniture Co. Route 149 is used by replacement workers at the plant, where some employees had been on strike for about nine weeks. The replacements have been harassed and intimidated since the strike began, authorities said.
``A lot of people asked if I did it,'' joked Mr. Bardin. He estimated his tire shop handled about 50 flat repair jobs stemming from the incident. For three days, customers poured in with damaged tires-some embedded with as many as seven nails.
Some tires didn't deflate until a few days after the punctures, he said, so flat repair jobs were still trickling in the following week.
According to Mr. Bardin, some customers thought the blanket of shiny nails on the road looked like hail stones or frogs, and so kept driving right on through.
Fortunately for drivers-and Bardin Tire-the 43-year-old dealership was conveniently located near the nail-strewn highway.
In addition to its tire service, the company also operates a Mobil gas station, convenience store and car wash at the site.