Funding stalled for security cameras

By Gus Bode

Police hope parking lot surveillance will decrease burglary

Vehicle vandalisms and burglaries in University parking lots continue to be a problem for the SIUC Police Department, and officials say funding for security cameras, which they hope will combat the problem, is not yet available.

SIUC Police Director Todd Sigler said while the Department of Traffic and Parking approved a project to install security cameras in the parking lots about a year ago, funding for the project has yet to be released.

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“It’s a funding issue,” Sigler said. “There are a lot of demands on the funds, and it is a matter of making sure all of the demands are met.”

Saturday night 14 vehicles were damaged when they were physically moved from their parking spaces in Lot 45, located at Grand and Wall streets, bringing the total number of cars vandalized in University lots since January to 21. Four other vehicles located in three separate University lots have also been burglarized during this the period.

“It’s an issue that we’re very aware of,” Sigler said. “Our officers spend a lot of time in the lots, but it’s still a lot of area to cover.”

Vehicle vandalisms increased at SIUC from 81 in 2003 to 109 in 2004. Vehicle burglaries increased from 73 in 2003 to 92 in 2004.

Sigler said much of the increase is due to the University allowing freshmen and sophomores to have their cars on campus. He said the more cars that are in the lots, the more opportunities exist for such incidents to occur.

Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum said city lots, located off of Grand Street and U.S. Highway 51, do not have a consistent problem with vehicle vandalisms or burglaries. He said officers conduct routine patrols of the lots and that he is unaware of any plans to purchase cameras.

The city parking lots are used by students, mostly in the Brush Towers and University Park areas, who cannot purchase decals to park in the University lots.

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Although most burglaries or vandalisms occur in overnight lots, Sigler said there are particular lots that seem to have more problems than others but declined to comment on which ones, saying he did not want to draw further attention to them. He said when funding is made available for cameras, the lots with the higher number of incidents would be the first to receive them.

There are no estimates on how much cameras will cost yet. The Department of Public Safety and the Parking Division have done preliminary work with the Physical Plant to determine the most cost-effective way to install the cameras.

Between the East and West sides of campus, there are four primary overnight lots, Lots 23, 45, 59 and 106. Between the family housing units, Southern Hills and Evergreen Terrace, there are more than 10 overnight lots.

Because money generated through tickets and the sale of parking decals, which would pay for the project, are used for a variety of purposes, including the maintenance of streets and parking lots, Sigler said funding the project would require some juggling in the budget.

“Cameras in the lots is a very important item, and it’s one of several that we are trying to work out the budget on,” Sigler said.

Vehicle vandalisms and burglaries usually spike during the months of August, September, October, March and April because of the warmer temperatures. Sigler said during those months the department increases its patrols.

Sigler said he hopes to have a better idea of how much the cameras will cost and when funding will be released by the end of the fiscal year.

Reporter Ashley Richardson can be reached at [email protected]

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