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Somerville signs urge drivers not to slash tires

Rachel MacCabe

Posters are showing up on Somerville’s utility poles this week, reminding residents to think twice before slashing someone’s tires or smashing car windshields over a parking dispute.

The bright green signs were spotted in several locations Wednesday, giving residents step-by-step instructions on how to avoid overreacting to the discovery that someone overtook their coveted space.

Patience has been wearing thin, and the posters are pushing perspective.

“How should we be behaving? Like rational, level-headed adults,” they say, reminding readers that we’re all in this taxing winter together.

Rachel MacCabe, who designed the posters and has put up 25, said she just couldn’t stand the negativity stemming from the historic snowfall any longer, and she had to speak up.

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“People are just acting like animals. Even less civilized to an extent,” said MacCabe.

MacCabe said the idea to create the leaflets started as a joke when her neighbor’s windsheild wipers were vandalized over a parking dispute.

Her boyfriend also had his car tires slashed by an unknown vandal, she said. After thinking about it further, MacCabe jumped into action and whipped up the signs.

“This snow is bringing out the worst in people for sure,” she said. “I was hoping we could reel them back into sanity.”

The instructional posters, which take on a “Keep Calm, and Carry On” motif, are marked at the bottom by a white heart, and an aide-mémoire that warmer weather is just around the bend.

“Do we all want the same thing? Yes. Which is? Summer,” the laminated signs say.

In recent weeks, residents in the South End and South Boston have fallen victim to angry drivers annoyed by their spots being taken, returning to their vehicles only to find smashed windows, keyed doors, or flattened tires, after space-savers were removed.

In Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh said Wednesday that space-savers would be removed starting Monday in regular garbage collection.

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Somerville, however, bars space-savers, regardless of who removed the snow.

Somerville police have seen a “slight uptick” in motor vehicle vandalism cases during January and February when compared to prior years, though officials said they could not conclusively attribute the increase to space-savers.

According to police, officers have responded to 38 vehicle vandalism calls since the start of 2015. For the first two months of 2012 to 2014, police averaged just 28 similar incidents.

The green signs stapled to street posts this week remind residents of the rules, and to be neighborly, rather than vengeful.

“What should you do when you’re angry? Stop and think,” the signs say.

MacCabe said that’s important.

“Just relax. It’s not worth it,” she said.

Rachel MacCabe

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.