Cameras capture deck vandalism

WARREN – Despite having his car vandalized earlier this month, one elected city official said he still considers the Franklin Street parking deck the best place to keep his vehicle.

”I can’t say if the parking deck is the safest place in the city to park. But I would still rather park somewhere where there are cameras as opposed to on the street where there are no cameras,” said Warren City Councilman Greg Bartholomew. ”At least this way there’s some indication of what happened and maybe the police can tell who’s involved.”

Bartholomew said the back window and side mirror of his car were damaged about 7 p.m. April 5. That same night a window was broken in another vehicle, according to reports.

On Thursday, police questioned three teenagers about those and other recent incidents.

Warren police Chief Timothy Bowers confirmed the city has four open investigations involving reports of vandalism and criminal damaging at the city-owned parking deck. However, he said that as of Friday no one had been charged.

He said investigators are reviewing surveillance recordings that show three individuals on bicycles in the parking deck. At one point two individuals appear to be passing a knife back and forth.

”The kids couldn’t be positively identified because the quality of the video was too poor. But I’m confident they will be and that they’ll be charged,” Bowers said.

The parking deck is owned by the city. However, it has been managed by Warren Parking Systems LLC for the past several years through contract.

Anthony Iannucci, WPS president, said he met with the city operations department this week and a decision was made to install about a half dozen signs to make people more aware of the video surveillance there.

”There are smaller signs that were already there but we are in the process of having the larger signs put up right now,” he said

He said there has never been onsite security at the parking deck. An attendant monitors it weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Iannucci said that despite the recent vandalism, problems at the parking deck have been minimal.

”It’s a shame because you have incidents like this and people think it’s worse than it really is,” he said. ”It can happen anywhere and it happens other places. But when you have random acts of vandalism it gets everyone’s attention and it makes it bad for everyone.”

Sarah Bokone, who reported having her tires slashed at the parking deck April 9, said she posted information about the vandalism on Facebook hoping to get the word out and locate the individuals responsible. Thursday evening she was contacted by someone who spotted something downtown near David Grohl Alley, which is between the deck and West Market Street.

”They said they saw bikes that looked like the ones the kids were riding on the parking deck,” she said. ”I went over there and I talked to the kids. They stayed until the police got there. They said they didn’t do anything.”

An officer questioned then released a juvenile male, an 18-year-old male and juvenile girl, and recovered a pocket knife from one of them, according to police documents.

”It’s just sad that someone would do something like this and for what? They don’t gain anything,” Bokone said. ”I’m very apprehensive about parking there now.”