A week ago, owners of cars parked behind four different properties on Lake Place collectively faced thousands of dollars in damages after a mass window-smashing spree took place sometime the night before.
According to the Yale Police Department, a total of 18 cars were broken into in lots behind four properties on the street, which runs behind Payne Whitney Gymnasium and houses a number of undergraduates living off campus. The University owns two of the four properties targeted during the break-ins. Owners have been forced to assess and remedy the damages, while an investigation led by the New Haven Police Department is still ongoing. No suspect has been identified.
“Car break-ins do occur in and around campus occasionally,” said William Kraszewski, captain of the Yale Police Department. “This incident appears random and isolated. It’s rare to see such a large number of cars broken into in such a short timespan in close proximity to each other.”
The incident occurred some time between 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 and 6:45 a.m. the next morning. Police officers have not been able to contract any witnesses or obtain security camera footage to pinpoint the exact time of the break-ins.
Matthew Coffin ’19, who lives on Old Campus as a first-year counselor, parks his car in the lot behind 61 Lake Pl. — along with roughly ten other cars. Coffin has parked there since the end of August without any prior incident, and his car was one of six vehicles in that lot affected by the mass break-ins. The New Haven Police Department has still been unable to make contact with some other car owners.
Coffin could not identify a pattern to which cars were broken into — his own was several years old and without any visible valuables — when he first went to the lot after the incident. The perpetrator smashed his front passenger seat window and ransacked through both the glove compartment and center console. Coffin’s belongings were left strewn across the seat — but he sustained no losses beyond the cost of replacing the broken window.
Daniel Shapiro ’18, whose car was one of three parked behind 85 Lake Pl., also experienced a broken passenger seat window but no losses of any items. Of the three cars parked in that lot, only Shapiro’s was broken into. Kraszewski noted that the majority of cars affected were rummaged through but ultimately had nothing taken from them. Shapiro’s car did not have an alarm, but he had not encountered any problems before.
“I’ve parked [behind 85 Lake Pl.] for three years,” Shapiro said. “This is the first incident.”
Coffin reported the incident to the Police Department and requested information regarding the extent of the break-ins on Tuesday morning. The New Haven Police Department was unable to provide that information at the time.
The New Haven Police Department conducted initial investigations, while the Yale Police Department — which monitors the city’s channels and shares a dispatch system — sent an officer to assist with the investigation due to the high number of cars involved.
Coffin paid out-of-pocket for the window repairs — which totaled around $290 — since insurance companies typically require damages to pass a designated deductible dollar value before covering the remainder of the payment. Shapiro’s costs amounted to $700. Beyond the broken window, the perpetrators damaged his car mirror.
“It just feels frustrating because the majority of Lake Place is inhabited by Yale students,” Coffin said in an interview with the News. “So many people’s cars were broken into. It wasn’t just one — one is an isolated incident and there’s not much you can do. But it’s a street full of cars.”
Yale University Police is located at 101 Ashmun St.
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