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Philly police: Activist who complained about vandalism was the vandal

PHILADELPHIA -- A neighborhood activist who spoke out about the vandalizing of dozens of cars near his home now has been arrested in the case, police say.

David Toledo is accused of slashing tires in the neighborhood, Northeast Detectives Capt. John McGinnis told NBC10.

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At a press conference Wednesday evening, police said Toledo had been arrested and charged with two counts of felony mischief, 47 counts of criminal mischief, false reports and other related offenses.

Police say they questioned Toledo extensively on April 16, the same day the most recent vandalism was reported on Aldine and Teesdale Streets as a dozen or so more cars were targeted.

Toledo has spoken to NBC10 several times since coverage of tire slashings in the area of the 4000 block of Aldine Street and surrounding roads began to surface in February. The vandalism dates back even further than that, according to neighbors.

"I hope the cops get them before the neighbors find out who it is because something bad is going to happen," Toledo said after some cars were vandalized in mid-March. "My wife said 'somebody is watching us, watching the cops' because when they're here nothing happens."

Now police say that it was Toledo who was causing sleepless nights for neighbors concerned that their cars would be vandalized while they slept. A town watch was formed and police even offered a big reward for an arrest in the case.

All along, Toledo, who lives on Aldine Street, was there speaking out against the vandalism. 

"This will be the last time that you're going to get my car because you will get caught," Toledo told NBC10 after just his tires were slashed on March 20. "The $10,000 reward, I don't want the money, all I want is their hands so I can smash them so they can never do it again."

It's unclear if Toledo is responsible for all the area vandalism but police do believe he at least committed some of the tire slashings on Teesdale, Aldine and Erdrick Streets, McGinnis said.

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NBC10 also spoke exclusively with Toledo's mother, who reacted strongly to her son's arrest.

"I think he's being set up," she said. "He doesn't go around slashing tires. He's got better things to do in life -- he's got a life!" 

The local town watch program Toledo claimed to be a part of held a meeting at 7 p.m. at Frankford and Aldine. In spite of Toledo's claims, the town watch says he was never a member of their organization.

Philadelphia Police urged neighbors who feel betrayed by Toledo to not take matters into their own hands.

“Let the justice system take care of Mr. Toledo,” said Capt. Frank Bachmayer. “We don’t want any type of retaliation.”

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