St. Louis, Mo. features the world’s tallest arch, the Gateway Arch, an ode to the city’s status as the “Gateway to the West.” Stony Brook doesn’t have a gateway, but if it did, there’s a good chance someone would have broken it by now.
Last year alone, 29 parking gate arms were broken at Stony Brook University Hospital. One parking lot, in particular, the Radiation and Oncology lot, is repeatedly damaged. Recently, the gate arm was damaged three consecutive days: April 17, 18 and 19.
Stony Brook University Assistant Chief of Police Eric Olsen believes it is a premeditated crime perpetrated by hospital employees who are tired of paying for parking.
The employees sneak into the parking lot by closely following another car that is entering the lot, Olsen said. These employees have no plan to pay, so when they go to leave the lot and there are no other cars leaving to closely follow, the employees seem to grow impatient, breaking the gate arm to flee the scene of the crime.
All of last year’s gate-arm crimes occurred on East Campus, mostly in the Radiation and Oncology parking lot and, in a few instances, at the Health Sciences Center garage. The crimes resulted in five arrests, all of which were hospital employees.
“Typically, the motivation for breaking a gate arm is to leave the parking lot without paying,” Olsen said.
On East Campus, parking garage rates are $3 an hour for the first three hours with a cap at $10 for 24 hours. Monthly parking is available for faculty members for $16.24 or $22.72, depending on which union bargaining unit they belong to. Employees can have the monthly fees deducted directly from their paychecks, according to the Stony Brook Parking Services website.
The gate arm machines are created so that the gate arm can break off from the machine without damaging the whole mechanism.
There are three types of parking lot gate arms: aluminum, PVC and wood. Stony Brook uses PVC arms, which, according to parkingzone.com, are lightweight and pose less risk of damaging vehicles. PVC arms are designed for high-traffic areas and can cost 80 percent less than aluminum gate arms. PVC gate arms, though cheaper, still sell for around $150 for a six-pack of gate arms.
Typical charges for damaging a gate arm are criminal mischief and petit larceny for not paying the parking fee, both of which have the potential to result in up to one year of jail. UPD has taken measures to catch the individuals behind the perpetually damaged gates.
“We have installed some cameras,” Olsen said. “We are having more success making arrests.”