THEATRE STUDENTS VICTIMS OF GERRARD STREET PARKING GARAGE SMASH-N-GRABS

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By Stacey Askew

About a year ago, theatre production student Mike Caruso parked his car in his usual spot in the parking garage at 40 Gerrard St. and went to set up for a show.

When he returned to his car at 1 a.m., he found his back window smashed in, and only the change from his ashtray missing.

He thought it odd that the thieves didn’t take the shopping bags or the dress suit he had in the car. All they took was a few nickels and dimes.

Others haven’t been so lucky. Another student, who still parks in the garage, had his entire backpack, including his laptop, stolen just last month.

He still parks in the garage because the company who runs it, Imperial Parking, refuses to give him a refund. He says he won’t keep parking there next month.

The student said he returned to his car late at night to find the back window smashed. There was only one car parked nearby, plus his car windows were tinted.

The student reported the incident to 40 Gerrard St.’s security, and was granted a contractor pass — meaning he could park in a higher traffic area than where his car was burgled.

The thief was not found. In Caruso’s case, he said he didn’t bother reporting the incident because there were no obvious clues. “Looking back, I don’t feel like they could have done anything anyway.”

Ironically, Caruso had only been parking in the garage for a week before the window was smashed. He switched from parking at another garage to 40 Gerrard St. because they offered cheaper rates than where he used to park.

The result of the incident was automatic. “I vowed to never park there again after that,” he said. The parking garage is privately owned, and unlike others near campus, charges $9 for 24 hours and is open day and night — a much cheaper rate than others offer.

It is especially convenient for theatre students as it is steps from the front of their building and the theatre. The similarities in break-in methods are not common to most car burglaries, said Tanya Poppleton, a Ryerson Security supervisor.

“People usually don’t want the attention. I imagine (attention) was something they really wanted right away,” Poppleton said.

She added that the number of break-ins on Ryerson’s campus has remained relatively steady. Nonetheless, Caruso thinks the garage could use a little extra security.

“It’s pretty accessible to pedestrians,” who can duck into the garage for a quick smash-n-grab burglary, he said.

At the moment its door opens whenever it detects any movement past its sensors.

Caruso said he has heard of at least one other student (now graduated) aside from the anonymous one in this article whose car was also burgled in the garage.

Manager of 40 Gerrard St., Linda Tylee, said she had not heard of any break in’s and had no comment. Security also refused to answer questions, at her request.

They urge students who experience car robberies to report them to the manager’s office.

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