The big question is: was this a simple case of vandalism or sabotage? Investigators also want to know who fooled around with the brakes of a car belonging to a UC Santa Cruz professor and why.
A team of seven FBI agents canvassed the street where the vandalism took place, looking for witnesses. It occurred late Saturday night or early Sunday morning in a quiet residential neighborhood in the hills of Santa Cruz.
The target, a car parked in front of the home of a researcher at U.C. Santa Cruz.
"The vehicle's braking system had been disabled. The braking lines had been cut. Cables to the emergency brakes had been cut," says Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Rick Martinez.
Fortunately no one drove the SUV. Just before the researcher's wife was about to drive away, she noticed brake fluid draining under the car -- an indication something was wrong with the brake.
The researcher is a professor of marine biology at the university. That sent up a red flag.
"The work that the researcher does may suggest that there's an extremist group behind the vandalism, but it hasn't been absolutely confirmed," says Martinez.
Two years ago, the townhouse of a UC Santa Cruz biologist was firebombed. Another bomb exploded minutes earlier, gutting a car owned by another researcher. Their names were on pamphlets left in a coffee shop which police believe were printed by animal rights activists. Those cases are still unsolved. That's why Santa Cruz police again called the FBI.
"Were bringing in the FBI in order to ensure if in fact that is the case, we've got as many resources to bear on this at the front end as we can," says Martinez.
Investigators say the researcher, whose name police are not releasing, use no animals in his research, nor did he ever receive any threats before.