BY EVAN DENNY
William Plate is a sophomore who currently lives at the Oakwood Gardens Apartments, one of Sacred Heart University’s off-campus housing options. He awoke on Tuesday, Feb. 12, to discover that his silver Mazda hatchback was missing from the Oakwood parking lot.
Public Safety and Bridgeport Police responded to the incident. Bridgeport Police opened an investigation into the matter, but it has not been resolved.
“I was more than surprised to see that my car was not in the spot that I had parked it in the night before,” said Plate. “I contacted Public Safety who gained access to the surveillance video of the parking lot from the night before. From there, I watched as four men casually rummaged through every car in front of my building, including mine.”
Plate filed a report to Bridgeport Police for his stolen car. His car was left unlocked and there was a spare key hidden in the car, making it an easy target for the criminals.
“I do not feel safe at Oakwood,” said Plate. “This is mainly because Public Safety continues to prove that they do not do their job. They were not present for the burglary of my car, nor were they present for the multitude of other incidences of criminal activity at Oakwood since 2018.”
Plate’s car was found totaled at a scrapyard last week after it had gotten into an accident and was ditched on the side of the road. He visited it last Wednesday to collect his belongings.
“My car was entered around 4:30 a.m. and I found it around 9:30 a.m. with the glove box hanging open and my center console lock broken open,” said sophomore Christopher Agor, another Oakwood resident. “I did not find anything to be stolen from my vehicle, I didn’t really have anything in there of value.”
Agor usually leaves his car unlocked because the locks get stuck when the temperature gets really cold. He only parks a few spots down from where the Public Safety officer is supposed to sit overnight.
“I contacted Public Safety and they came and inspected to write a report of the incident. I told Bridgeport Police of the incident but have heard nothing further,” said Agor.
Jack Fernandez, Director of Public Safety, recommends that students take precautions to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future. These precautions include making sure to always lock your vehicle, don’t leave valuable items visible in your vehicle, don’t leave a spare key in the vehicle, and immediately report suspicious activity to Public Safety.
Public Safety is changing their security detail at the Oakwood apartments in response to this incident.
“Public Safety has increased its presence at both facilities. Overnight security will patrol both Oakwood and Pioneer Gardens during the overnight hours, 7-days per week,” said Fernandez. “This security personnel will conduct patrols in a marked Public Safety vehicle and maintain a visible presence.”
“What scares me the most is that even if Public Safety was present on that night, what could they have done?” said Plate. “Public Safety is completely unarmed and has no ability to fend off a criminal who could potentially have a weapon, let alone four criminals.”
Oakwood had another incident at the end of the Fall 2018 semester. On Dec. 13, 2018, two Sacred Heart students were approached by a man driving a BMW. The man stole one of the student’s cell phones and displayed a weapon when the student tried to get it back.
No injuries were reported from the incident and it is still under investigation by Bridgeport Police.
“We are working with Bridgeport Police to have more of a police presence as well as increased Public Safety patrols for Oakwood Apartments and Pioneer Gardens. Public Safety regularly conducts crime prevention programs and will [be]conducting programs for Oakwood and Pioneer Gardens residents in the near future,” said Fernandez.
Sacred Heart’s registration for housing takes place in April and with limited availability for students, Oakwood is an option for many.
“It makes me feel as if I live in the most unsafe dorm area on campus, compared to those of Bergoglio Hall and North (Christian Witness Commons),” said Agor. “I will be sure to have all my doors locked and would advise any students to not leave anything of high value in their cars overnight.”
“Oakwood students should not be concerned with living at the Oakwood Apartments,” said Fernandez.
The Public Safety Emergency Number is 203-371-7911.