Independence movie theater sees car vandalism two weeks in a row

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- For the second consecutive weekend, moviegoers at the AMC Theater here have left the cinema to find vandals had smashed out the windows of their cars. The crime spree has now attracted the attention of police.

Public Information Officer Tom Gentry says 10 vehicle owners reported that their car windows had been broken out Friday night, while parked outside the AMC 20 Theater. In some cases victims reported personal items had been stolen from their vehicles.

This comes after police took nine vehicle vandalism reports the previous weekend, Jan. 17-18, in this same parking lot.
Moviegoers say there's nothing more frustrating than to go out for a night of entertainment, only to return to their vehicles and find this sort of damage.

Many of the people who come to this theater travel quite a distance from the east, from places like Richmond, Lexington and Oak Grove. For those victims, the drive home Friday night was awfully windy and cold.

"It's just such a shame," said Denice Tracy of Oak Grove. "And I just hope it doesn't hurt the business because this is a well-established place. It's got a good reputation. I don't know why someone would do that. It's going to make you think twice, you know, before you come back."

In many cases, insurance will cover this kind of vehicle damage, but not before owners pay a deductible. Customers say the theater is a popular place to see a show, and they've always considered the parking lot to be well-lit and safe. But it is not monitored by surveillance cameras.

Independence police say they are investigating these crimes, working with both AMC corporate security and the property manager's private security firm. Gentry says stopping these vehicle break-ins has become a priority for the police Crime Overview Response Evaluation, or CORE, team.