Parking garage break-ins trending in Wilkes-Barre

It was in broad daylight at 4:41 pm on Thursday, August 1, when Jessica Wrubel of Dallas drove her car into the downtown Park & Lock Central, intending to take in a feature at the Movies 14 Cinema Center with her daughter. She quickly decided the trip to Cinemark in Moosic would have been well worth the drive, instead. Wrubel said, “I’ve heard the re- ports of various break-ins in the movie theater parkade over the last few weeks. In fact, when my daughter and I were getting out of the car, I told her to make sure she took everything with her and to leave nothing out in the open.”

As Wrubel’s daughter exited their vehicle, she noticed broken glass on the ground, which she then pointed out to her mother. Wrubel noticed that the SUV in the spot next to her had had its front passenger window obliterated, and that there was blood on the passenger seat.

“I immediately called 911,” stated Wrubel.

She also reported the incident to the attendant at Movies 14, later voicing her disgust, telling the Gazette, “I will not be back anytime soon,” referring to the Diamond City and not solely the theater.

The occurrence also highlights a relatively new crime reporting dynamic: direct and real time broad- casting of incident reports among a large group of citizens. Within minutes of discovering the vandalized SUV, Wrubel had transmitted photos of it from her cell phone to the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Facebook group—numbering close to 2,900 members as of early August—along with a brief account of the situation. Real time accounts are also fed to the group from members monitoring “scanner chatter” and by eyewitnesses.

Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition President Charlotte Raup has assisted concerned residents of Hanover Township in creating their own Facebook presence for the same notification purposes. That group numbered close to 500 as of early August, and may be located on the popular social networking site as the Hanover Twp. Neighborhood Watch. Member- ship in both Facebook groups is encouraged.

The Gazette emailed both Greg Barrouk, Vice President of Hawkeye Security Solutions, and Liza Prokop, spokeswoman for the city, inquiring whether Hawkeye, which operates the camera system inside the city parking garages, was able to capture anything of value concerning the SUV break-in. No responses were received by the time of printing.