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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Twenty cars broken into at Shocker Hall raises security concerns

Photo courtesy of Lauren Hughes.

Twenty students’ vehicles were reported as damaged early Tuesday morning after an at-large individual or individuals shattered several car windows and brake lights. 

The Sunflower requested the police reports in person but was referred to the online record request portal; the police station was unwilling to provide copies at the time. The Sunflower’s request via the online record request portal was rejected because the general counsel’s office found that the information from the records was not in the public’s interest, citing Kansas statute 45-221 (a)(10)

Lauren Hughes, a student living at Shocker Hall who had her car broken into, said she was notified at 4:45 a.m. by police that her car had been “involved in criminal activity.” She arrived at Lot 3N, where most of the affected vehicles had been parked, around 8 a.m., where police briefed her and other students on the situation.

“They had been out there all morning,” Hughes said. “They called everyone who had this happen … to them.”

Hughes said the smallest window – the vent window – on the backseat passenger side of her 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe had been smashed. 

“That’s what they smashed in all the cars. It’s the most expensive window to replace because it’s weirdly shaped,” Hughes said. “It’s also the least visible. You notice if a windshield’s gone, but you don’t notice if a little back window’s gone.”

Hughes said she was “lucky” that her brake lights hadn’t been broken, like some of the other vehicles had been. Hughes said her car sustained $800 in damages, which won’t be covered by her insurance company because the amount of damages done was “right under the threshold.” 

She said between herself and three other friends who had their cars broken into, the damages were more than $3,000. Due to the extent of the damage, the parties responsible would be charged with a felony.

Hughes, who has more than five years of legal experience from part-time jobs, said the break-ins had several strange aspects. She said it was “weird” that both cars on the edges of the lot, as well as in the middle of the lot, were broken into. 

She said it was clear that money wasn’t the goal of the break-ins, but rather to inflict the most amount of damage possible.

“One of the girls who I was parked next to, her car got smashed as well, and she had like $500 in cash in her car,” Hughes said. “No one took that; they just smashed her car.”

When Hughes asked the police for advice on how to keep her car safe, she said they gave her an unrealistic solution.

 “They told us, ‘You may park in the parking garage because people might break into it more now that it’s broken,’” Hughes said. “But I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t put it in a parking garage because it’s like $18 for 10 hours.’ Like, I can’t do that every day.”

Parking in the garage is $1.50 per hour on the second and third floors, and $275 per semester on the first floor.

In hopes of finding the individual responsible, Hughes asked police if there were any nearby security cameras. She was told the nearest security camera, at the intersection of 21st and Hillside, was between 50 and 100 feet away and only measures about 10 feet out.

“They won’t be able to see anything,” Hughes said. “Those parking lots are just completely unprotected, and parking lots (are) one of the most dangerous areas.”

In response to the car break-ins, Student Body President Kylee Hower and former president Iris Okere, the owner of one of the damaged vehicles, presented a resolution Wednesday evening to install additional security cameras in campus parking lots. 

Okere emphasized adding cameras to lots 1, 3N — where Okere’s car was “hit” — and 5. Okere said the small back window of her car — the same as Hughes’ — was shattered.

“Because there are no cameras in these lots, I wrote this resolution very fast because I know  Student Government — we can make things happen,” Okere said.

The piece of legislation acknowledged the break-ins, which Okere said occurred around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, and she said the resolution aims to give “top priority for the safety and security of both campus residents and commuter students.” 

The resolution was approved with 29 votes in favor and one in opposition. While only a suggestion to the university and not a required call to action, the resolution said the Student Government Association should collaborate with campus police to determine the best places to install the cameras.

Hughes said installing additional security cameras is a long-overdue step in the right direction and holds the university accountable for the safety of students and their property.

“Having an ability to know that ‘Hey, if something happens in this parking lot, whether or not it’s someone breaking a car or someone hurting someone or stalking someone, that needs to be caught and seen, so we need those cameras,’” Hughes said.

In the meantime, Hughes will be left without a vehicle until she can get repairs done on Thursday. She has duct-taped her window shut, which she said “looks horrific.” She said until the cameras are installed, she hopes others are spared from the same misfortune.

“The problem isn’t that it happened; the problem is that there’s nothing going to be done about it happening,” Hughes said. “I just want to know that this isn’t going to happen to other people.”

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About the Contributor
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, Editor in Chief
Allison Campbell is the editor in chief of The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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