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Car stolen from campus garage was transportation and shelter for CSU student

11-28-22 CSU STOLEN CAR.jpg
Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-28 20:29:57-05

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Hannah Gates has endured more than many college students. The Cleveland State University sophomore is majoring in both political science and economics and hopes to attend law school after she finishes undergrad studies. Life’s challenges have threatened her ambitions more than once, but she believes the latest setback could have been avoided.

In mid-November, Hannah discovered her car was missing from CSU’s Prospect garage near the southeastern corner of campus.

“I didn’t even assume that it had gotten stolen because this is a parking garage that the president even parks her car in, so it wasn’t the first connection that I made,” she recalled.

After searching the garage to make sure she didn’t forget where she parked she reported her car stolen to CSU police. Surveillance cameras showed the suspected thief driving out of the garage in Hannah’s black Ford Taurus on November 11.

“When people steal they don’t really think about what that does to another person because they’re thinking about their own personal gain,” she said. “My livelihood is in that car because of the fact that I had to go through so much and I’m so used to having to pick up and go.”

News 5 first talked with Hannah in August during the groundbreaking for an apartment complex designed for transition age youth (TAY). She spent much of her childhood without consistent housing and managed to overcome her circumstances to achieve her dream of going to college.

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She explained the car was a gift from a family that was inspired by her dedication and helped raise money for college tuition.

“Because I got a full scholarship that covered all of my tuition last year, they took that money that was raised - on top of extra money they invested in the car - for me to have a car in Missouri when I transferred out there,” she said. “It was very special to me because of the fact that not many people are supportive of my story.”

She transferred to CSU for her sophomore year. Without reliable shelter during school breaks, Hannah often resorted to sleeping in the vehicle and kept many of her personal belongings inside of it.

“Dorms are temporary, college is temporary, housing and shelter is temporary for me,” she explained. “So it was nice to have a car that was permanent, or at least so I thought.”

Hannah said she pays $400 each semester to park her car in CSU’s Prospect garage, in part for the security she thought it would provide. In early November, the garage’s security gates were up during maintenance work. She believes it made vehicles inside the parking deck vulnerable targets for theft.

“400 dollars a semester for a college student is ridiculous, especially if it doesn’t ensure safety for their vehicle,” she said.

A spokesperson at CSU told News 5 the bulk of the maintenance work on the Prospect garage gates was completed by November 4th. He said CSU Police regularly patrol all campus garages and lots and Hannah’s vehicle was the only one reported stolen to the department so far this school year.

Hannah contends any car stolen from secure campus parking should be cause for concern.

“I think that would be beneficial to come up with a plan with student government and police to see if there was something they could do to avoid this,” she said. “I would probably suggest that [the thieves] be more mindful of how their choices and decisions affect others and not assume that something they’re doing won’t hurt somebody else.”

She added she likely won’t be able to afford a new car for several years. CSU said her case is actively under investigation.

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