Cars vandalized at Lakeland senior living home

Posted at 3:22 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 02:46:23-04

Memorial Day started on a sour note for about a dozen seniors living in a mixed-income community in Lakeland.

They woke up to find their car windows smashed and various items stolen from inside.

The vandalism happened sometime around 2 a.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Renaissance at Washington facility, a mixed-income community under the Lakeland Housing Authority. At least 16 cars were vandalized in the entire neighborhood.

Victims said they lost medications, money, various odds and ends left in their locked vehicles.

"I'm mad as hell. I can't afford to pay for this. I'm on a fixed income," said Ornie Harrell, who had her front passenger side window broken.

Harrell said now she has to try and make it to doctors appointments with a plastic bag covering where the window usually is.

Residents are now trying to get the attention of the Lakeland Housing Authority, because they say it's not the first time they've been hit with vandalism.

"This place has to be more secure," Harrell said.

Residents have asked for security cameras or other added security measures.

The executive director for the agency said it will work with LPD to add extra patrols, but right now there is no money in the budget to install security cameras.

"We'll try to work with LPD. We have a great relationship with them. We'll try to coordinate with them and give them a chance to address the problem," said Ben Stevenson, Executive Director of the Lakeland Housing Authority.

He said the problem is not exclusive to housing authority properties. 

Lakeland police responds to car break-ins almost daily, however, spokesman Gary Gross said 16 in one day is not normal