By Thomas Albano and Lauren Lavelle
Two quick arrests were made in the mass vehicle vandalism that took place across the Lawrenceville campus in the early morning hours of Feb. 17.
A total of 29 cars in several lots were impacted, with side mirrors of many either damaged or torn off completely.
William Bartus IV, 19, a sophomore business administration major and criminal justice minor from Ringoes, and Eugene Eskow, 19, of Flemington, who is not a Rider student, were charged with criminal mischief to vehicles on Feb. 18, processed and released on summonses pending court appearances, according to Lawrence Police.
Police estimated the total damage to be over $15,000. The vehicles were in several parking lots, including Kroner, Daly’s, C/Z/R, West Village and BLC.
Lawrence Police worked with Public Safety, reviewing video recordings to identify a “suspect vehicle,” a Ford pickup.
Freshman elementary education major Hannah Roselli awoke Thursday morning to find her car clobbered.
“I went to the parking lot to go and get bagels, and I found my mirror knocked off of my car, and I saw the car next to me had a mirror knocked off, and I thought that car hit me,” Roselli said. “Then I looked around, and I saw there were 10 other mirrors on the ground in the parking lot and there were scratches all over my car.
“My mirror was gone, it was actually not in the parking lot. My wires were cut, but they were hanging off — they were cleanly cut. There were smudges all over my car, like scratches in my paint and on my window.”
Sophomore criminal justice major Ben Sanders got to his car about 5:45 a.m., to find his car among the many vandalized. Furious, he immediately called 911.
“I had to wait for campus security to get there, had to wait for police to get there and they took pictures,” Sanders said. “At first, they thought it was only my car. We then followed a trail and there were six cars also vandalized. So, at least it wasn’t only mine. Originally, it was following a pathway towards the SRC, so we thought it was only those and it was someone going in a straight line.
“My car was one of the worst that was vandalized. They kicked my passenger side window. It wasn’t shattered, but multiple footprints were there. They dented the passenger side door. They destroyed both side mirrors.”
The damage to Sanders’ car was so bad that he had to travel home to Maryland, a two-and-a-half hour drive, to get a parent’s car and get his car fixed there. It will cost $2,258.
“I’ve paid $500 up front for the insurance claim that I’m filing; however, I assume hopefully that’s going to be refunded back to me. I expect it to be,” he said. “However, the damage was, of course, way more than $500. Right now I’m driving my mom’s car. That’s why I went back to Maryland, because I have to get [the car] fixed there.”
Sanders added that this situation was not just a burden financially but also on his time.
“I am ending up getting two new car parts that I needed anyway; however, I’m losing all the time I had to work on a five-page essay that was due [Monday] morning and spending all that extra gas money going back to Maryland — a two-and-a-half-hour drive,” he said.
An email was sent out stating Public Safety would increase its patrol that night.
A follow-up email sent out two days later stated that a suspect had been arrested and charged with allegedly damaging the vehicles.
“Public Safety reached out to students whose vehicles were damaged with information they need to follow up with the police and their insurance companies,” the email stated.
Roselli said this promise is one that should be kept.
“Someone gave me an email address, and I gave my mom that email address and she’s going to email them the receipt,” she said.
She, however, believes that the situation would not have occurred if Public Safety had more of an active presence when patrolling at night.
“I think it was very stupid and [the situation] could’ve been avoided if Public Safety was actually driving around for 24 hours like they’re supposed to do,” Roselli said. “I don’t understand how they wouldn’t notice someone running from parking lot to parking lot, and I don’t know how they wouldn’t have noticed the noise of people kicking mirrors off of cars, so I think it was easily avoidable. It didn’t really have to happen.”