Multiple residents of apartment complex Latitude 33 are tying various occurrences of theft over the last two months to a broken garage gate. The gate has been out of commission for the same duration of time, leaving at least one JPCatholic student down thousands, and other residents of the gated community anxious for future incidents.
Ben Escobar, a senior at John Paul the Great Catholic University, is coming upon his third year of residency at Latitude 33. He was getting his day started last month when he went down to his assigned parking space in the apartment garage to see “pieces of glass everywhere.” One of his rear windows had been smashed, and a backpack containing approximately $5,800 worth of personal belongings had been taken. “I called the police…they took the information for everything I’d lost, but that was really all they could do,” Ben recounted. The stolen items included a Surface Pro 3, Nintendo 3Ds, a PSP, a new MacBook, and several USB sticks. “This was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me in the garage” Ben explained, supporting a likely tie between the theft and broken gate which has been “left wide open [to where] anyone can come in.”
In addition to filing a police report, Ben informed the Community Manager at Latitude, Steven Graham, of the incident. According to Ben, Steven offered to search through surveillance camera footage for anything suspicious. While the findings revealed an uneventful passage of time, Ben noted that there are no cameras on the lower level of the garage where his car is parked. Steven declined to comment on their location for security reasons, but he did say that, despite cameras being scattered throughout the property, “[they] aren’t always as effective as you’d think they’d be.”
Steven outlined details of the broken garage gate saying, “It took damage on April 17th. It’s been something that I’ve worked with every single day since then, but it is not functioning and has not functioned since then.” When asked about a date residents could expect the gate to be repaired, Steven said he did not have one. In the meantime, the garage structure holding apartment residents vehicles has been open to anyone. While Latitude 33 does not have regular police patrol on the complex grounds, they maintain a contract with independent security patrol, Brothers in Arms. According to Steven, Brothers in Arms patrols during evening hours, and comes “when they are called or when they see something.”
Julia Carrano, Dean of Students at JPCatholic, and a resident at Latitude for nearly five years, recently encountered theft as well. “The day the garage in the apartments was officially announced as broken, I had a UPS package they said was delivered to my door…I found part of the packaging later that night once I got home, but there was no package.” Julia said she has had packages go missing in the past, but “had personally never experienced that kind of thing before. It was shocking to me just because I hadn’t even left it that long. It arrived around noon and I got home a couple hours later.” Acknowledging the reality of petty crime, she concluded “Until things are more stable, I’ve decided to cut down on my online purchases and just go to the store instead.”
Last weekend, another incident of petty theft was reported to the police when JPCatholic student Riley Brown called for a vehicle break-in. Riley afterwards spoke with Steven Graham, who was unable to give her any update on the broken gate. She commented afterwards saying, “I’m really just concerned for people’s safety, it could have been a lot worse. This shouldn’t be going on for as long as it has.” She is not alone in the sentiment. Other residents have taken to online reviews to express their dissatisfaction with the situation. According to one from Assata Wells, “No progress has been made and tenants are not being updated. The lease agreement ensures that the garage will be secured.” Latitude 33 replied saying they have recently requested the Escondido Police Department to patrol the parking structure and “currently have an approved bid for repairs and are awaiting parts.” That was two weeks ago, and there’s been no update since.