NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Drug deals and vehicle break-ins. That's what some French Quarter residents say is happening in a parking lot on Rampart Street. Some people say they're too afraid to even go to their cars at night.
Just a few hundred feet from the NOPD's First District station is a parking lot that some say is riddled with crime.
French Quarter resident Bob Hannaford says, "Usually I take Burgundy Street to walk around this area so I don't come through the parking lot at night."
Hannaford used to park in the lot until his car was broken into - twice. "There was nothing in my car. One time they took change, probably $1.50 in change, and that's all that was in my car," Hannaford said.
"We used to have an attendant here which made it feel kinda safe, and now late at night, around 1 or 2 when I get off, I kinda rush here and I get in my car and leave as fast as I can because of the issues with no attendant," said French Quarter resident Brandon Moreau.
Gail Cavett lives across from the lot, which is owned by Premium Parking and located at St. Louis and Rampart. She says a Premium Parking executive told her that attendants were removed from many of the company's lots in the city, to save money. "As I understand it, from talking with the gentleman with Premium Parking, it was a financial decision to pull the attendants out, so it was a cost-cutting measure," Cavett said.
The move, Cavett believes, gave free reign to homeless people and criminals looking to make a quick buck. Cavett explains, "We have drug dealing, we have prostitution, we have all sorts of criminal activity going on. I personally try not to come out after dark to get my car out of the lot."
The vice president of Premium Parking confirms that attendants were pulled from the site in an effort to modernize the lot. Now, motorists use an automated machine to pay. And for special events, attendants are provided. Ben Montgomery also says the company recently fixed all lights in the lot to provide ample security, and a field supervisor drives through three to four times a night.
"Occasionally there's someone who comes by who puts tickets on the cars and boots the cars, but it's quite different than having security in the lot," Cavett said.
Many of the people we spoke to say they still park here, citing a lack of available spots in the Quarter. But at $250 for a monthly pass, they say it's not cheap, and they feel they deserve more protection.
The vice president of Premium Parking points out vehicle break-ins happen all over the city, not just in that parking lot.
Gail Cavett says she won't stop trying to persuade the owner of the company to hire a security guard because she believes that's something a good corporate neighbor should do.