By Abigail Cloutier
While some parking lots shut down across Youngstown State University’s campus due to construction on the Cafaro Family Field intramural complex, several students have reported vehicle break-ins due to the lack of parking resources.
This has occurred after the M-90 parking lot across from the Cafaro House closed at the end of the 2019 spring semester.
According to YSU Police Chief Shawn Varso, a few vehicle break-ins have been reported on YSU’s campus, but no reports have been made to the Youngstown Police Department.
“In the month of September, we’ve received three reports of break-ins, including one auto theft,” he said. “The city of Youngstown, in the immediate vicinity, didn’t report any break-ins.”
Varso said he encourages students to report vehicle break-ins, no matter how insignificant they may seem.
“I think one of the things is, if nothing is taken, or only something like change was taken, they don’t think it’s serious enough to report,” he said. “That’s furthest from the truth. We take every report of a crime seriously.”
Varso said students need to make sure their vehicles are locked and that an unlocked vehicle is one of the easiest ways for a thief to break in.
“Well now with the key fobs, sometimes you don’t think of hitting that lock button when you get out of the car,” he said. “So, just making sure you hit the lock button is the most important thing.”
Varso said the importance of parking in a well-lit area with other vehicles around is crucial along with putting valuable items such as a laptop or purse in the trunk of the vehicle.
“Make sure the areas where they park their vehicles are well maintained,” he said. “Make sure there aren’t a lot of bushes or garbage cans that can obscure the view of the lot from the street or from the house itself.”
When auto theft or break-ins are accurately reported, the YSU Police Department can determine if there is a pattern happening in the area.
Hannah Shively, a sophomore music education major, had her license plate stolen off her car, which was parked on Elm Street next to the Cafaro House.
The incident occured during finals week last semester, three days before Shively was slated to move out of the dorms and shortly after the M-90 lot across from Cafaro House closed.
“I drove to Boardman and back the night before, and the next morning it was gone,” said Shively. “Whoever took it put the screws back but took the plate.”
The closure of the lot requires over 250 students who live in the Cafaro House to find parking in university lots further away or, more often, park closer to the building on the street.
Kameya Parks, a junior theatre studies major, had her car broken into after parking it overnight on Ohio Avenue.
While nothing was physically taken from her vehicle, the contents of her car had been rummaged through.
“[Ohio Avenue] is really sketchy,” said Parks. “It isn’t well-lit at night.”
In Park’s opinion, the closure of parking lots on campus has contributed to the issue.
When students park on local streets instead of a YSU overnight lot, their vehicles do not have the protection of overhead lighting and security cameras.