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March 20, 2014

University working to secure Lot 80

By Timothy Simko

Cleveland State Police recently made an arrest on Lot 80, and since then there has not been any crime reported on the lot, according to Ronald Morenz, Captain of the University Police Department.

Lot 80 was on Cleveland State’s police sight as it had become an easy target for opportunity car break-ins. Since January 2013, 34 offenses have been reported on Lot 80—including 15 counts of criminal damaging, 14 counts of theft, one count of assault and one count of possession of criminal tools, according to Systems Coordinator Daman Vance.

The growing notoriety of Lot 80 for car break-ins has become a concern among students when it comes to choosing a lot to park their cars.

“I don’t feel like any lot is a safe lot, except the lots where the cops are at—like Central Garage,” said Jay Sargent, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.

However, students keep parking on the lot because it is close to the dorm buildings.
“It’s closer to Euclid Commons where I live, and the white hangtags are cheaper,” said Morgan Oliver, a freshman who is undecided in her major.

The decision to opt for lots such as Lot 80 is also driven by the parking rates.

“It wasn’t a hike from my dorm and the white hangtags are half price,” said Sargent.

There are plans to make improvements to the lot to prevent future incidents.

“They’re [parking department] working on improving the lighting and improving the holes in the fence,” said Morenz.

Campus police has also increased patrols in that area, but Morenz believes that students need to play an active role in helping Cleveland State Police.

“They’re [students] the ones that are in the lot all the time, and see stuff that doesn’t look right,” he said.

To drive home the point, Morenz pointed out the recent arrest of a suspect in the context of Lot 80 incidents was made because the police received a lead from an observant student.

Police want students to get involved, emphasizing that when they see something they should say something.

“The more eyes we have, the safer a campus it’s going to be,” he said.

The parking department has also taken a proactive approach in preventing crime on Lot 80. The department will make courtesy calls anytime something desirable is out in the open, and will make a call if they see flat tires, windows are down, or that the lights are on.

The parking department does this by typing the license plate number of a student’s car into their internal system database and finding the owner’s information, according to Parking Director Benjamin Rogers.

Although some may believe that Lot 80 has been a “hot spot” for crime, Morenz disagrees.

“The crime on campus is sporadic,” he said. “They hit multiple cars all the time, they don’t just hit one car.”

He also emphasized that the vast majority of crime happens because property is out in the open.

“Two quarters may mean nothing to you but it’s worth a whole lot more to them,” he said.

Morenz explained signs that criminals look for when scouting out cars. He said that when taking a GPS device off of the windshield that the suction cup ring will still show on the windshield and that it is a sign that the property they are looking for is in the car.

He believes that students shouldn’t be concerned about parking in Lot 80 or other parking lots.

“As long as they [students] follow common sense: put your stuff away,” he said. “The majority of reports happens because students leave their stuff out in the open.”

He said that if a student doesn’t feel safe they should use the Viking Shield app to text a police dispatcher, call the police escort service, or go to a place where they feel comfortable if they are not comfortable.

According to university spokesman John Soeder, the Viking Shield app has been activated 154 times since its launch in November. This includes actual usages as well as tests, safety checks on and off campus and off-campus activations.

The students feel like more can be done to make the lots more secure.

“They could have gates like Trinity [Commons] and charge cheaper fees, but beggars can’t be choosers,” said sophomore Jay Sargent.

Trinity Commons parking lot is located directly across the street between Prospect Ave. and Euclid Ave. This lot provides parking for the Diocese of Ohio and Trinity Cathedral, Café Ah-Roma, Civic Commons, Campus District, Inc., and a Subway restaurant.

Freshman Morgan Oliver agrees that Lot 80 should try to implement a gate system.

“Maybe if they had gates where you could swipe in, I’m not sure how that would work with YMCA people though,” she said.

Parking Director Benjamin Rogers agrees that the issue with a gate system would be incorporating YMCA members into it.

“We would have to have a system that accepts one time parkers as well,” he said.

However, Rogers did explain that there are plans to improve Lot 80 in the near future. There are plans to improve the lighting on Lot 80 as well as fixing the fence.

Shehadeh Abdelkarim, the Director of Mechanical and Electrical Operations, is one of the people that will be working on the project on Lot 80.

“The request just came in last week,” he said.

The grounds team services will be working on improving the fencing and lighting on Lot 80. They are the same team that did the lighting all across the Cleveland State campus and will work to improve the lot to meet the standards of Cleveland State University.

“We are working to make the CSU fencing and lighting the same as on campus,” he said.