Parking lot closed for landscaping, declared an “easy target”
The gravel parking area on Fair Park between Lot 15 and North Hall was closed off in early September for landscaping purposes and to deter criminals from committing vehicular break-ins.
Debbie Gentry, associate dean of students and executive director of housing, said the area was not a designated UALR parking area and there had been several reports of car break-ins in the area.
Gentry said, “That area is not fenced and is easily accessible to would-be thieves looking for an easy target with an easy escape route.”
In addition, Gentry said there was a dead tree scheduled to be removed from the area. To allow tree cutters to get to the area and prevent any damage to students’ vehicles, UALR Housing asked students to park in Lot 12 or 15. If any students park in the area, they will receive a ticket.
The lot remains closed off, even though the tree has been cut down. Andrijana Vukovich, director of capital planning with facilities management, said the area was a vacant lot and not designed for students to park there. She said she does not have any information on plans for the area at this moment.
“We are not closing off the area to make students walk further across campus,” detective of public safety Tonya Soule said. “It is a safety measure to prevent more students from having their vehicles broken into. Anyone can get their car broken into, no matter where they are.”
According to police reports, at least three students have reported having their vehicle broken into since the beginning of the fall semester. Soule said one of the vehicles had a broken window, while the other two had no damage. She said that one of the owners had their property returned to them.
“We have increased our patrol since the break-ins,” Soule said. “We are more cautious and if we see someone sitting in a parked car, we ask them if they live on campus and if their vehicle is registered to park on campus.”
Soule offered a few tips for students to prevent a break-in on their vehicle:
- Park your car out in the open, under lights
- Don’t park in a crowded, dark area because this gives suspects cover
- Make sure your doors are locked
- Don’t leave any money or valuable technology out for people to see
- If you have a GPS bracket left in the window of your vehicle, take it down
- If you see people standing around or sitting in their vehicle, don’t put anything of value in the trunk. This lets potential suspects know where it is.
Resident assistant Matt Quantz said his vehicle was broken into while he was working a night shift. “DPS told me that they [the suspects] used a slim jim, opened my door, popped my hood as the alarm was going off, cut all the wires to my fuse box and batteries, so the car alarm wouldn’t go off.”
Quantz said the suspects stole his radio, two 12 inch subwoofer speakers, a 1200 watt Kicker amp, and anything else worth money. “The mechanic said the guys who broke into my car had to be professionals because they cut all the right wires to prevent being shocked,” Quantz said. “A patrolman from DPS said that was the first professional job they had seen on campus.”