SJ merchants distribute flyers of transients accused of vandalism

Businesses along the Alameda in San Jose are taking matters into their own hands amid complaints that two transients have caused thousands of dollars in property damage over the past couple of years.

The businesses have begun issuing their own "community alert," placing the men's names and faces on flyers as a warning to the public.

In one incident, the owner at Rex Cleaners says the front door of his business was shattered.

"The guy got a sewer cover from across the street and just hurled it through the plate glass window of the store," owner Kevin Lanfri told KTVU.

Business owners began sharing their stories of vandalism and harassment with one another. 

"Hot coffee being thrown in people's faces, tables being knocked over, and this was an ongoing thing," David Thomas of the Alameda Business District said.

The merchants said that after comparing notes, they found most of the trouble was at the hands of two men, Ivan Ettel and Travis Brigham, both transients.

So the businesses began printing flyers as a community alert to let people know.

"One is obviously to inform people that these are the people you should be aware of, avoid them at all costs. But also to elicit their help," said Larry Clark of the Alameda Business District.

The alert suggests residents do not give the transients food or money and report all incidents to police.

Neighbors and business owners say they've tried traditional methods, even driving the men to get services, but that nothing has worked.

At one point the neighborhood did get the equivalent of a restraining order against one of the men, but it has since expired.

The neighbors have now compiled lengthy packets on both Ettel and Brigham, in case the men are arrested again.

Still, city officials say it's important that residents use the services available in their dealings with the homeless. 

"The city operates a homeless concerns hotline that residents can call when they see someone on the streets who might need support," said Ray Bramson, the interim deputy director of San Jose's Housing Department. 

"We want to lead with services," he said.