Compiled by Abigail Karas, Erron Thomas, & Veronika Lee
Students checking their email first thing Thursday morning were greeted with a message courtesy of The UNO Police Department. According to emails, an indefinite number of cars (“dozens”) parked in the HPC and Engineering parking lots were smashed in at 1:30 a.m. Despite stating that there is surveillance video of the suspects, no details were provided about the individuals. The email stated: “We believe the presence of an officer prompted the suspects to leave campus.” Regardless, students would like to know who to look out for on campus and wonders if it was a student or outsider who perpetrated the crime.
Random car break-ins are not an unheard of experience in New Orleans. According to reports from NOLA.com, last year ended with 6,377 car break-ins, a 57 percent increase from 2018.
A Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering major (whose name has been removed per their request), was incredulous after their car was broken into and vandalized.The student states they feel unsafe parking on campus now. “I followed all the rules they tell you to, you know, take valuables out of your car, keep everything hidden, and all that. There was nothing out in my car that looked to be worth anything at all but they still broke into it and trashed it. I mean, yeah, I was out pretty late studying but we are on a college campus, that should offer some security,” they said.
The student had their glovebox emptied which included her GPS. It appeared to them they raided via the window.
As of publication, phone calls to The UNO Police Department were not returned. A message was left for the lieutenant (name inaudible on the voicemail) simply asking for comment on ways in which students can stay safe in this situation.
Insurance agent Regina H. of the Thelma Meyers State Farm Agency reminds students to take pictures immediately after finding their car has been broken into – then get your insurance company on the phone.
“You will be asked about the damages…Not all companies are the same. [Note] that if there is anything stolen out of the vehicle it may not be covered under your car insurance policy unless it’s [physically] attached to your car like a radio. When it’s not attached like your cell phone or computer they are not covered if they stolen out of the car, money.”
According to the agent, your comprehensive coverage should cover water damage inside of the vehicle as it comes from your deductible. Since many student car interiors were drenched by heavy rains after the vandalism, it appears they will be able to receive coverage for the water-related damage.
That said, what student wants to deal with this crisis on top of academics at the start of the semester? It should be noted that a parking pass costs $114.90 per semester.
Dr. Francis Adeola, UNO professor of sociology, says he’s been here since 1994 and things like this never used to happen. He worries about the perception of poor security on campus might inspire more targeted activity towards the school. “Something needs to change because it can effect enrollment rates,” he says. “The university tries to make this a campus that you want to be on and less of a commuter school but how could that happen if students have to wonder if they feel safe.”
From the University email: “The University takes seriously its role in protecting both our people and property on campus. The UNOPD will increase patrols and surveillance, as well as work with our local law enforcement partners to safeguard our campus. If you see any suspicious activity, day or night, please call the UNOPD at (504) 280-6666.”
Update: As of Friday at 4:09 p.m., President Nicklow has issued a university-wide email to address the community’s anxieties. He states via email, “We are considering all options to improve security, including reducing the number of entrances/exits on campus during overnight hours.” The email says campus security is working in tandem with NOLA PD and that there is no reason to believe the perpetrators are affiliated with UNO.
Note: As of Monday at 10 p.m., UNO police have yet to respond to telephone calls or emails. Students’ names have been removed from the article for fear of losing their scholarship for speaking out against the university response to the vandalism. At this time, we are told that UNO authorities have reported police will be in touch with victims within 10-15 days of the vandalism.
Driftwood will continue to update this piece as more info becomes available.
Photo courtesy of an anonymous student