Break-Ins on the parking lot, students’ vehicles vandalized during school hours

Getting a driver’s license, buying a parking spot, and being able to drive to school as an upperclassmen is a rite of passage for students. But when the security of vehicles and other personal property is jeopardized, the privilege of driving to school becomes a risk.

Four parking lot break-ins occurred in April. On April 14 Jake Curran (11) and Tommy Cerutti’s (11) cars were broken into, and on April 21 Alana Hester (11) and Alex Rich’s (12) cars were broken into.

“I was just so surprised that someone broke into my car and smashed my window,” Hester said. “I didn’t really know what to think at the time.”

Curran’s GPS unit was stolen, as was Hester’s, along with her police detector and 15 dollars. The entire stereo system was stolen from Cerutti’s car.

“[They] cut the dash, broke it in half, ripped it out,” Cerutti said.“They knew what they were doing.”

In each scenario, the cars were parked on the east side of the lot, closest to 109. The windows were broken sometime between 10:45 and 2:00 pm with an unknown object, according to Officer Mike Smith, and were discovered during the day.

“On the first set, we went out to the car and realized they were broken into,” Officer Smith said. “The second time, a student recognized a suspicious vehicle on the lot, and the parking lot attendants were notified. They went over there and that’s when they found the vehicles.”

Mrs. Shanaree White and Mrs. Nancy Almstedt, parking lot attendants, declined interviews, but according to Officer Mike, they have different viewing spots throughout the day to monitor the parking lot.

“In the morning one will be in daily parking and one will be in the front, and you have to check in with them both,” Officer Smith said. “They’ll make their rounds, and then they go to different locations at different times.”

After four break-ins and thefts, students hope to see a change in the parking lot security system.

“The day after, they still had the second gate open, and then it happened the next Thursday,” Cerutti said. “[They could] probably close the second gate, and have a lady at one gate and another at the other They should also have cameras.”

Although it’s difficult to stop and question everyone entering the parking lot, minor changes will be implemented to the security system.

“The south gate is going to be closed during the day,” Officer Smith said. “And the parking lot attendants are going to monitor, so people will check in with them.”

Even so, in light of the thefts, students question the reliability of their monitoring system.

“The car, seeing them break into my car, they should have seen all that happen,” Hester said.“They should have seen a sketchy car coming into the parking lot in the first place, so they should be doing their job.”

Even those whose cars haven’t been vandalized feel the parking lot attendants should be more active in monitoring the people entering and leaving the campus.

“I know that I’ve come in later in the day and the parking lot ladies just sit there,” Julie Merkel (12) said.“I feel like they’re supposed to come talk to me, but they don’t and I just walk right past them.”

Even though parking lot attendants are present on campus, students still need to use good judgment when it comes to the belongingsthey leave locked in their cars.

“You should never leave any kind of valuables out open in your car, like GPS, phones, laptops, anything that you would not want to see stolen,” Robert Keough (12) said. 

Hopefully students’ eyes will be opened to the gravity of the situation and take this warning to heart.

“It makes students more aware of their surroundings, especially with their property,” Officer Smith said. “Just make sure your cars are locked, keep valuables out of plain sight. If you can bring it in, bring it in with you.”

In a perfect world, concern for the safety of vehicles and property wouldn’t need to be raised, but in light of the current situation, everyone needs to be aware of security and what they can do to protect their assets.