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Sense of neighborhood security slipping after cars are vandalized, one set on fire

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A mom woke up to her teenage daughter screaming and ran out to find flames engulfing her car. Her daughter's car was torched and dozens of other vehicles were vandalized in an Overland Park neighborhood.

The vandalism happened near the corner of 145th and Floyd.

"I don't know if it's even describable," Gretchen Mitchell said.

It's a feeling that's hard for Mitchell to put into words. She was sleeping when she heard shrieking coming from her 16-year-old's room.

"I heard her scream, 'mom, the car is on fire!' I ran to her and said, 'what are you talking about, what's going on?'"

They looked out the window and saw flames as high as the house.

"I had just filled the car with gas. I knew there was a lot of fuel in it. I was scared it might explode. We heard tires exploding," Mitchell said.

Mitchell woke up the rest of her family and ran outside to safety.

"It was just completely engulfed in flames," she said.

Within minutes, firefighters were on scene. Once Mitchell started talking with neighbors and police, she realized this was no accident.

Police told her several cars in her area had been hit. Some neighbors we talked to say their cars had been rummaged through, some had wallets and chargers stolen.

But Mitchell said there was nothing of too much significance in her daughter's car.

"That's the thing that we can't quite figure out. We don't at all know what might've triggered somebody to do this, it just doesn't make any sense," she said.

A quiet neighborhood with unlocked cars and open garages...

"It's just a place we have always felt safe," she said.

A great sense of security, that is now starting to fade.

"It's a helpless feeling," Mitchell said.

Mitchell says police had the car towed for further investigation. If you know anything about this crime spree, call the Crimestoppers TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

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