The spouse of the researcher, whose name is being withheld, found the car at about 11 a.m. Sunday with its brake lines and cables to the emergency braking system cut, police said. The damage had left the braking system inoperable.
Officers responded to the victim's home in the 1200 block of Laurent Street and after speaking with the 55-year-old researcher, determined the motive behind the vandalism may be related to the victim's employment at the university.
Unlike targets in the past, the researcher's work does not involve medical testing on animals, police said. The Santa Cruz Sentinel cross-referenced the home's address with a university directory and concluded the researcher works in the biology department.
The researcher was not threatened before the brake lines were cut, police said. No one has claimed responsibility for the vandalism.
Bay City News contributed to this report.