Downtown residents say they are increasingly concerned about large, possibly illegal gatherings, street racing and crime
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – A loud and wild weekend in downtown St. Louis left residents frustrated. Some woke up with smashed windows and stolen items from their cars. Others were held up until early Sunday morning by ongoing parties.
“I came here with such high hopes, coming from New York, and it’s been really tough here. Last night was the example of how anything can go wrong,” said Diane Arnold.
Arnold lived downtown for two years. She said the past two weekends have been filled with car break-ins, gatherings of people outside buildings, loud cars and motorbikes and massive parties.
“The complete lack of respect for people and property,” Arnold explained.
It’s a theme that many residents echo throughout downtown after this weekend.
“We need consistent enforcement of current orders on the books,” Arnold Stricker said.
Stricker lived downtown for years. His car was one of two dozen inside the secure underground garage at Printers Lofts which was broken into on Sunday morning.
“Most of the damaged cars had broken windows, some things were taken,” Stricker said.
Surveillance video shows four people waiting outside the garage around 1 a.m. A car drives into the garage, then the thieves follow. Ely Walker Lofts, a block southeast of Printers Lofts, also suffered car break-ins from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. This is the same location that a 16-year-old was shot and killed in the lobby at a short-term rental party about six weeks ago.
“You have the ability to cause a lot of chaos when it comes to people who live here and call this home,” Matthew Spencer said.
Spencer lives at Ely Walker Lofts. Fortunately, his car was not broken into. However, he said he saw hundreds of people, who he said did not live in Ely Walker, on their rooftop Saturday night.
“I think there were around six people around 11.30am. At midnight, there were probably 30 people here. Then they just kept coming,” Spencer explained.
Video on social media shows what appears to be hundreds of people inside the community room on the penthouse level of Ely Walker. Spencer and other residents said he was unavailable to residents. They told News 4 the community hall had been locked for years.
Building management sent this email, in part, to tenants on Sunday:
Residents of Ely Walker,
We have been made aware of large parties this weekend in the building. The community hall was broken into and there was a lot of damage. We have taken steps to secure the Community Hall again, but this will not guarantee that someone will not break in again. If anyone sees or hears anyone in the community room or any other common area of the building who shouldn’t be there, please call the trespassing police. We cannot guarantee that vehicles will not be broken into, so please do not leave valuables in your vehicle, do not leave garage remotes in your vehicle and call the police in the event of suspicious activity or if your car is broken into.
News 4 contacted a representative for the lofts on Sunday afternoon. Here is the response received:
The Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association has rules in place prohibiting AirBnB-style short-term rentals. It also has rules regarding excessive noise, nuisance and destruction of property. Enforcing these rules is difficult when the association is unaware of a “party” or short-term rental event until it occurs. The association will use all the resources in its power to definitively remove the occupants at the origin of these parties. The association is also evaluating measures to improve building security, while cooperating with the police.
“It was a risk for the members present, a risk for the people present in the building. If you want to do it responsibly, do it in a place where you have a right to be, and it wasn’t that place,” Spencer said.
Spencer, Arnold and Stricker said they would like to see city leaders and police step in to enforce the rules and ordinances already in place.
We contacted the SLMPD on Sunday and received no response. Neither the car break-ins nor the evening in the loft were mentioned in their daily “incident summaries”. City officials told News 4 that the weekend’s events would be addressed at a press conference on Monday.
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