Property damage in main campus parking lot vexes students

With new improvements to the main campus this semester, one issue still remains—parking lot security. Students this semester continue to complain of damage caused to their vehicles. One of these students, first-year psychology major Ramtin Vafa, described two instances of his Mercedes C250 being keyed as well as being involved in a hit-and-run.

One day during the fall semester, Vafa parked his car in the downstairs lot. About an hour later, Vafa returned to find a deep slash mark on his door, the perpetrator nowhere in sight.

“Somebody was pissed off at me for whatever reason,” Vafa supposed. He reported the crime to a police officer, who could not find the culprit but suggested that Vafa park in the upstairs lot where security cameras from the Humanities and Social Sciences building may be able to catch sight of his car.

Later in the semester, Vafa noticed a long, shallow marking under the first. Once again he notified the police, who stated that their security cameras were not functioning at the time and therefore could not capture the keying.

In between both keying events Vafa was the victim of a hit-and-run when he parked in the angled lanes towards the entrance of the lot. Police searched for evidence of new damage to a car whose paint matched the scratches on Vafa’s car, but none was found.

Parking lot horror stories such as Vafa’s are not uncommon. According to Sergeant Jere Romano of the Santa Monica College Police Department, officers have responded to 48 hit-and-run incidents within the current 2013-2014 academic year.

On the first Monday of the spring semester, second-year student Nagar Pousti returned to her car in the morning when her friend pointed out a foot-long scratch on her Honda Pilot.

“I was mad, I started screaming,” said Pousti. “I think I found the person but I’m not sure. The cops are trying to investigate.”

First-year student Vivian Sabouhi was also victim of a hit-and-run.

“It happened fall semester. I was parked and when I came back from class I saw my back bumper just full of white paint,” Sabouhi said. In Sabouhi’s case, there were no witnesses to document the offense toward her BMW 328i.

The experiences of the aforementioned students are not unique, but instead recurring events, according to Pousti, “I have seen it happen so many times with my own eyes, to other cars.”

To prevent the unnecessary time and money spent tending to damaged cars, Vafa suggests that the school beef up security measures.

“At least put cameras in each corner, because even if someone is not getting hit, one may literally go deal drugs in the parking lot and no one would even know. You can get away with anything.”

However, implementing new security measures is unlikely to improve one’s ability to park without striking the car nearby, Romano pointed out. He would like students to become more involved in the process of safety themselves, encouraging them to report any accidents they see.

To contact the SMC Police Department after perceiving property damage to one’s own vehicle, students should call the non-emergency phone number at 310-434-4608 or flag down the nearest Parking Enforcement Officer for assistance. To report a hit-and-run, call 310-434-4300.