Casino Parking Garages Continue to Be Settings for Violent Crimes

Posted on: September 19, 2020, 09:00h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2020, 11:27h.

Multiple US gaming property garages were the scenes of shootings in recent months. In the latest incident, a shooting took place last Monday at the Agua Caliente Casino garage in Palm Springs, Calif.

Casino Garage Shootings
Police and firefighters respond to last month’s fatal shooting at an Emerald Queen Casino parking garage in Tacoma, Washington. (Image: KIRO)

The victim is expected to recover from the wounds. The violent attack at the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’-owned casino is being investigated as an attempted homicide.

Last month, a fatal shooting took place at an Emerald Queen Casino garage in Tacoma, Washington. In July, another fatal shooting occurred at Winner’s Way parking garage in Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

It is not surprising these crimes take place in parking garages, said Brad Bonnell, a principal of the Hotel Security Group, to, given their “isolation” and how they provide criminals “anonymity. Predators know that casino-hotel garages … [have] well-funded tourists.”

Bonnell is a former vice president of loss prevention for Extended Stay America, and ex-global director of security for InterContinental Hotels. Earlier, he was chief of staff for the Georgia State Patrol and an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

It is often difficult to prosecute defendants in casino crimes. Bonnell says victims may not want to repeatedly return to the location of the casino to testify in drawn-out court proceedings. That is especially true of guests who live in another state than where the casino is located, Bonnell said.

Garage Design Can Encourage Crime

He says that a garage’s design can make a property more inviting for criminals. Bonnell notes how many garages are enclosed, have multiple levels, and sloping ramps. They have stairwells and elevators, he added.

The large number of parked cars can make a garage darker by blocking light. Most garages are open to the public, Bonnell said, so entry and exit are easier.

Smarter building design can lower crime risk in garages. Via “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design” (CPTED), hotels and casinos can lower the risk for garages to become targets for crime, Bonnell said. Lighting and the design of elevators and stairways can be improved.

Pedestrian access to a garage can be discouraged by installing fencing or another type of screening. Also, having multiple signs and graphics will allow visitors to move quickly throughout the garage.

He also recommends that any restrooms should have maze-type entrances. Visitors, this way, will be at lower risk for muggings or other attacks.

Panic buttons, intercoms, sound surveillance, surveillance cameras, and security personnel patrolling in the garage — especially uniformed officers — will also lessen the risk for crime, Bonnell said.

To further reduce the risk of crime, Bonnell recommends hotels and casinos develop a security strategy. A key part of any plan is for hotels and casinos to analyze relevant data.

Some data relates to past crimes in a garage or hotel/casino. Other data includes the number and types of calls made to local police.

More complex numerical analysis can come from the CAP Index Scoring System. It offers scores for crime risk using an algorithm.

Casino Visitors Should Play It Safe

Players and other casino visitors should remember to take items with them after locking their cars in garages, or hide items in cars (such as in trunks), the Las Vegas Metro police said in 2018 after a series of incidents.

Women should keep purses close. Men should carry wallets in a front pocket instead of a back pocket. Security staff at gaming properties often will walk visitors to their cars if requested, KSNV, a Las Vegas TV station reported.

Be aware, too, if anyone is watching you getting cash at a cashier’s cage. They may try to follow you as you exit the casino.