Smash and grabs unfold as parishioners worship inside N.O. East Church

Smash and grabs unfold as parishioners worship inside N.O. East Church

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - “It’s very disheartening. People are going to worship and enjoy their Saturday evening and this is what happens,” says Shawn Vimmett.

While people were worshipping inside the St. Maria Garetti Church in New Orleans East Saturday, thieves were smashing in car windows in the parking lot.

“It was definitely a sad situation,” says Vimmett.

Shawn Vimmett showed up to the 7 o’clock service late and says he discovered one vehicle after another that was hit.

“So we checked the whole back row, and I would say 90 percent of those cars were broken in to, and then we proceeded to the front row, closest to the actual building and all of those were broken too,” says Vimmett.

Police say windows were busted out of at least 30 vehicles in the church parking lot. Vimmett says in most cases nothing was stolen, but frustration over the crime that continues to happen is taking a toll.

“It’s a certain level of audacity when you go to a church parking lot where people are minding their own business and you chose to cross that line,” says Vimmett.

In Mid-City, a night out at the Wrong Iron bar meant replacing car windows for some who were just trying to enjoy their evening.

“Smashed windows, 12 of them and all were customers,” says Nicholas Shultz.

Shultz of the Wrong Iron says about a dozen cars parked in the Post Office parking lot were hit.

“First-time customers were hit and a couple of them probably won’t be back,” says Shultz.

People attending a function at City Park became victims too.

“We are just as frustrated. We’ve arrested individuals time and time again for these crimes,” says Chief Shaun Ferguson.

NOPD Chief Shaun Ferguson says the NOPD is taking multiple approaches to stop the smash and grabs, and he’s very aware of how upset the victims have become.

“We are locating and arresting these individuals that’s conducting this criminal activity. We just have to be better at working with our partners in the criminal justice system and holding them accountable,” says Ferguson.

Victims we talked to said they agree it’s about holding them accountable for their actions.

“Whoever is responsible for them, basically whoever is claiming them on their taxes, I think, should be held responsible,” says Vimmett.

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