Dozens of cars in Alexandria were damaged early yesterday by vandals who slashed tires and spray-painted cars parked on the streets.

The incidents took place between 2:30 and 6 a.m. in the blocks centered on S. Lee, S. Fairfax and Green streets, south of the Old Town area, police said.

As many as 40 cars may have been damaged by the teen-agers, according to Alexandria police Sgt. Ron Uhrig. No one was reported injured.

The incident resembled a series of tire-slashings several months ago in a neighborhood near Alexandria's George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Two juveniles and an adult were charged in that incident.

According to one resident yesterday, "we left our house this morning and saw several cars completely spray-painted. It looked like someone had gone over them 35 times with a spray paint can.Then we started noticing the slashed tires. The less expensive cars seemed to have one tire slashed. The more expensive ones, like our Mercedes, had three tires slashed.

The area is about half a mile from the heart of the Old Town area. It includes a mixture of town houses selling for as much as $140,000 each, and smaller rental properties.

Police said the incidents were unrelated to problems of drunkenness and antisocial behavior around restaurants in the Old Town section.

"This looks like kids, the kind of thing that happens in the summer," Uhrig said.