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Roanoke Co. Police investigate illegal tire dumping

Roanoke Co. Police investigate illegal tire dumping (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

ROANOKE CO., VA (WSLS 10) - Highland Road is in a rural part of Roanoke County, it runs under the Blue Ridge Parkway.

No homes are along this stretch and few cars drive by. It's perhaps the reason someone dumped a number of tires here.

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"This time it's about 125 tires that were dumped on the side of the road," said Sergeant Jeffrey Johnson. "All at once."

Johnson says illegal tire dumping happened in this general area about this same time last year with about half as many tires.

The reason it happens repeatedly, he says, "The easy answer is is probably the expense. When you're dealing with these large amounts of tires."

It's costly to recycle and dangerous to dump.

The biggest concern is fire, like the one that burned in Roanoke County for weeks in 2002. 

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Other concerns arise because tires don't degrade. When the snow under them melts, they'll sit and risk disrupting water flow. Johnson says the tires are sitting along a drain line and could cause flooding when the snow melts or after a rainy period.

The tires could collect water as well, which in warmer months, attracts mosquitoes. They're also a place animals would curl up in and makes nests, Johnson added.

The obvious concern, hundreds of tires along an area shared with the National Park Service is simply an eye sore.

"Illegal dumping falls under the Department of Environmental Quality's code. Under 500 tires, it's a class one misdemeanor. So you're looking at up to a year in jail and or a fine of up to $2500," Johnson said.

The penalty could also include the cost of clean-up but Johnson admits it's a hard case to solve.

"The remoteness is a convenience for them because there's less eyes."

Forensically, there's no evidence to be found on the times that would lead them to the person responsible for dumping them.

Johnson suspects the bulk of the tires were tossed from the back of a truck in the larger piles then tossed throughout the half-mile stretch of Highland Road without any one noticing or calling police.

Roanoke County Police are working with the park service on the investigation. They ask anyone who witnesses suspicious activity to call the department's non-emergency telephone number at (540) 562-3265. Anyone with information about this specific crime should call the Criminal Investigations Division at (540) 777-8641, the Emergency Communication Center at (540) 562-3265 or the Roanoke Valley Crime Line at (540) 344-8500.