City lawmakers work to minimize car break-ins Downtown

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- For more than a year now, car break-ins and thefts have been plaguing Downtown and the St. Louis region as a whole. Now, city aldermen are trying to change that. In the meantime, business owners and residents are left with smashed windows and crime-ridden blocks.

“There is no security, there’s nothing on this parking lot, so everything happens there,” Sebastian Montes said.

Over the last year, Montes, El Burro Loco’s owner, said he’s dealt with car break-ins, fights, stolen cars, and shots fired into his building all stemming from the parking lot across from his restaurant on Washington and 11th.

“We do security every single day, but the only thing they can do is stay on our property. They cannot go into the other parking lot because it’s not part of us,” Montes explained.

Tuesday afternoon, a nearby resident captured a video of someone breaking into cars on that lot outside of El Burro Loco Downtown. In the video, you can hear the resident on the phone with 911 explaining what’s going on.

“What we’d like to see is the city help us out,” Montes said.

Downtown Alderman James Page is trying to do just that with Board Bill 80. BB80 targets surface parking lots, like the one at Washington and 11th, to enhance safety measures. The bill calls for all lots to include four-foot fencing, better lighting and an attendant or automatic payment gates at every entrance and exit.

“I do think that private property owners need to be vigilant in how they manage their properties during this time,” Brad Waldrop said.

Waldrop owns several lots across the Downtown area. He said he thinks BB80 could help tamp down crime. Many of the safety measures mentioned in BB80, Waldrop said, he already implements in his lots and has even seen improvements in safety for years now.

“We used to have about five car break-ins a week, or more. When we first put in our fencing and gate arms, our break-ins went to literally zero,” Waldrop explained.

Waldrop said they made up for the cost of additional security in less than three years. Now, they’re continuing to profit fully from safer, more secure parking lots.

News 4 also reached out to St. Louis Parking Company. They also own several lots Downtown with the blue “park here” signs. Their owner said they’re not in favor of BB80 but wouldn’t do an interview with News 4 or explain why they’re against it.