Sac State drivers cause 71 hit-and-runs since start of last semester

Security cameras in parking structures too expensive, says campus police

Picture this: it’s winter break. Your parents got you a new car, and you couldn’t be more excited for the semester.

A month later and your new car has a new dent smashed into your rear passenger side door, and you have no idea how it happened. This is what happened to transfer student Pree Narayan and her white 2020 Toyota Corolla after she parked in Sacramento State’s Parking Structure I.

“Even a note saying, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have insurance, but I hit your car,’ would have made me feel better versus no note at all,” Narayan said. “I don’t know who did it. There’s no remorse, and it makes me feel really upset.”

But Narayan said she’s also upset because the police cannot do anything about it. The Sacramento State Police Department told her that there is no video, note or witness, so nothing can be done to pursue the case. She said police are hoping a witness will come forward.

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Chris Wong
Narayan’s damaged car sits outside the Sacramento State Police Department on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. She and police think someone was driving too fast in Parking Structure I and hit her car while making a turn.

Narayan joins the 70 other victims of hit-and-runs since the first day of class last semester, Aug. 21, according to the Sac State crime logs. Only one of those involved an injury. 

Currently, only Parking Structures I and V have security cameras, and they only cover the entrances and exits, according to Sac State Chief of Police Mark Iwasa. Sac State PD pays for and maintains the security cameras.

Iwasa said that getting enough security cameras to cover all floors of the parking structure is too expensive.

He said placing cameras at high traffic areas like stairwells and elevator lobbies where assaults can occur is the highest priority. 

“Let’s face it. Cars are important. People’s property is important. But the welfare of people is more important to us,” Iwasa said. 

No violent crimes were reported inside parking structures last semester.

Sac State PD’s next priority is placing cameras at entrances and exits for all parking structures, Iwasa said. Parking lots all have some sort of surveillance, but the coverage and camera quality varies by lot.

The three locations on campus with the most crime last semester were Parking Structures II, III and I. Parking Structure II had 18 reported hit-and-runs alone last semester. 

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To monitor parking, Sac State PD assigns community service officers to parking structures and lots.

“I always see cops going in and out of there, especially towards the evening,” Sac State student Deondre Pasquini said. Pasquini is a former State Hornet staffer.

Pasquini was also a victim of a hit-and-run. 

“My car was parked, and I just came back, and I noticed that there was a huge scratch on the rear of my car,” Pasquini said. 

There was no note left on his car, leaving him to deal with the consequences.

Iwasa said hitting another car is not a crime by itself. Drivers turn an accident into a crime when they do not contact others involved in the accident. 

“When they leave the scene without making notifications to other parties at interest, it becomes a crime,” Iwasa said. “They turn what was a non-crime into a crime by not owning up to it.”

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Computer science major Chaz Cooper said that cameras could dissuade people from committing crimes such as hit-and-runs.

“People have no fear (of leaving). There’s no consequences cause there’s no cameras for it,” Cooper said. 

He believes that Sac State should be helping hold hit-and-run drivers liable.

“We pay for the tuition, so you’d think that there’d be the liability there,” Cooper said.

Sac State PD said they have identified dozens of hit-and-run drivers in the past several years, but did not disclose the methods used other than available security camera footage. Iwasa encourages victims of hit-and-runs to report quickly to make investigating incidents easier.

Narayan said she now has to go to different auto shops to find the cheapest place to get her damaged vehicle fixed. 

“It just sucks having to even pay for something that’s not my fault at all,” Narayan said.

She said she might not be able to find a new door because her car is so new.

Narayan said security cameras are important because crimes besides hit-and-runs can occur in the parking structures. She said Sac State could do more about hit-and-runs.

“Without any cameras, how can they? I feel like that’s one of the biggest problems right now.”