JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Former local football star and NFL player Lito Sheppard turned to News4Jax for help after thousands of dollars in damage was done to his car on Father's Day.
It happened June 17 in a parking lot near the Jacksonville Beach Pier while he and his wife were having dinner. The vandalism was caught on surveillance video, and Sheppard and the Jacksonville Beach Police Department hope you recognize the two people responsible.
Sheppard is known to many locally and nationally. He graduated from Raines High School in Jacksonville, went on to play football at the University of Florida under Coach Steve Spurrier, and in 2002, he entered the NFL as a first-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Pro Bowl player returned to Jacksonville following his NFL career, and based on surveillance video, it appears his car was targeted in an expensive act of vandalism.
The video shows the vandals in what looks like a black Audi sports car, and they appear to try and position their vehicle as close to Sheppard's white BMW as possible.
At first, they park across from his car and wait. Then, they pull next to it, but the driver doesn't get out. When a red pickup truck parked on the other side of Sheppard's BMW leaves, the vandals take that spot -- as it appears they want to park on the side where Sheppard's gas tank is located.
The surveillance video shows a tall, skinny man get out of the passenger side of the sports car and spend several minutes standing near Sheppard's gas cap. News4Jax can't make out what is in the man's hands, but he's not alone. The video reveals a woman driver who appears to be working with him.
As the surveillance camera continues to record, the man can be seen pouring something into Sheppard's gas tank. At the same time, beachgoers can be seen coming and going, but the man and woman stay focused on Sheppard's car for at least 20 minutes.
At one point in the video, a security guard driving through the parking lot in a golf cart can be seen, but it does not appear he noticed what was going on.
The two are not finished. The woman appears to bend down near the front tire of the BMW, stops, and then gets back into the black sports car -- but not for long.
She gets out of the car again, and then seems to systematically walk from tire to tire, bending down at each one.
All the while, Sheppard is eating with his wife at a nearby restaurant, unaware something has been added to his gas tank and all four of his tires have been slashed.
It wasn't until Sheppard's car stalled out about a block away from where he was parked, that he realized something was wrong. He didn't know his car had been vandalized until he got a call from the dealership and was sent pictures of the actual slits in his tires and the marks on his gas tank where the cap had been forced open.
The total damage done to his car on Father's Day: $14,033. Sheppard has filed a police report, so if you recognize the man and woman from that black Audi sports car near pier the night of June 17, call Jacksonville Beach Police at 904-270-1661.
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