Students deal with vehicle vandalism

William Schertz

Sophomore geography major Sean Keenan could not find the right words when he walked to his car early one September morning – and found it covered in orange paint.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Keenan said. “I was literally out in the front yard just screaming.”

Keenan is not alone. A total of 18 car vandalism, mischief and damage incidents have been reported in Kent this month alone – most of them reported by students.

“It’s to the point where I’m so mad and I have nobody to take it out on,” Keenan said. “I don’t know why my car. That’s what gets me. There were like eight other cars in a line and it happened to mine.”

In Keenan’s Sept. 9 case, the paint that was poured on his car was latex-based, so he was able to scrub it off without damaging the car.

Other students were not as lucky.

“I was completely shocked,” said Megan Hering, senior art education major, after being awoken by Kent police knocking on her apartment door at about 3 a.m. on Sept. 4 to inform her that her red Chevrolet Cavalier had been completely flipped over.

Hering’s car was totaled as a result, meaning repairing her car would cost more than what it was worth. Fortunately, her insurance company is covering the damages.

“I’m still upset about it, but there’s not much I can do,” she said. “I’m disappointed, though, because the people who did it probably aren’t going to get caught.”

Other incidents were not as extreme, normally consisting of smashed windows, scratches and dents, and, in two cases, profane words keyed into the doors and hood.

Though 18 incidents in less than a month seem like a large number, Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent Police Department said it is no surprise.

When multiple criminal damage incidents happen within a small area, the police will put up surveillance systems to help catch people committing the crimes, Lee said.

But September’s incidents are spread out around the city, making it harder to find offenders.

Lee said some of these incidents are random acts, sometimes involving alcohol, but she said many times it is done by someone the victim knows.

“In cases like these it’s usually an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend or a roommate who they had an argument with or someone from the bars who they feuded with,” she said. “It’s a cowardly way of getting back at someone.”

Earl Schreiner, senior business management major, said he feels he is being targeted by someone.

Schreiner reported two incidents to the Kent Police, one on Aug. 31 where all of his car windows were smashed and another less than a week later where someone poured beer in his car and urinated on his seats. He said his car has also been urinated in three more times since then, and the bumper and antenna were ripped off.

“It doesn’t seem like the police officers are really doing much about it,” Schreiner said. “I’m really kind of left with an option and that’s to invest in some surveillance.”

Schreiner said he paid more than $320 for his windows, and is now looking for surveillance equipment online that he can install in hopes of catching the person who has been damaging his car.

“It’s not somebody that wants to play games,” he said. “It’s somebody that doesn’t like me. I really don’t have any reason to believe they’re done.”

Lee said there’s not much the police department can do about these incidents because of the volume of reports they get and the department’s limited staff.

“We have 39 officers right now and sometimes we just can’t handle the demands,” she said. “(On) Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays we’re additional staffing as it is, but we still can’t meet all the demands.”

Lee said there are a few ways students can lessen the chances of their vehicles being damaged, such as parking in well lit areas and parking closer to residences, in a driveway if possible.

Lee said many of the acts of criminal damage that occur are likely committed by other university students – a thought that concerns Justin Jeffery, Undergraduate Student Senator for Community Affairs.

“It’s kind of disheartening in a sense because we’re all students,” Jeffery said. “With tuition going up and gas prices and everything else, that’s more money coming out of students’ pockets. To me, that’s more of a hit than someone else doing it.”

Contact pubic affairs reporter William Schertz at [email protected].