By Leigh Martinez

LODI (CBS13) — Lodi has a very active downtown with several shops, restaurants, and a movie theater, but the downtown parking garage doesn’t absorb most of the traffic. Several merchants said they stopped parking there when full-time security guards left.

“The security got weaker and weaker and so, people were getting their cars broken into and not wanting to park in the parking garage,” said Ramona Henninger, who works at Sheri’s Sonshine Nutrition.

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Tillie’s employee Kim Romas said she’s had nothing but bad experiences parking inside the garage.

“My truck has been broken into, smashed out the passenger side window, they broke off my antena, they tried to break into it three weeks ago leaving the wire hanger in my door, breaking my moulding,” said Romas.

Friday afternoon, the three-story garage with more than 300 spaces was mostly empty. There were no visible security personnel around the building, but there were signs stating the garage had video surveillance. Several downtown shoppers and merchants said they rather take a chance parking on the street and getting a ticket, rather than park in the garage and get burglarized. The security problem at the garage has created a lack of street parking.

“They park right in front of our store all day,” said Henninger.

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Shopper Karen Kanas said she loves the atmosphere of downtown and would rather park along its streets, but admits she sometimes has to circle the blocks to find a spot.

“Occasionally, it is very difficult, especially if there is a movie going on,” said Kanas. “It depends where downtown you want to park.”

Derrick Sheffield, however, parks in the garage five days a week until 5 PM. He said he prefers his car kept cool in the covered garage.

“I haven’t had any problems,” said Sheffield. “I park here everyday. My car is always here and intact.”

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Lodi City Council members said they are looking into security issues at the parking garage, because they don’t want to have a “wasted asset.” CBS13 couldn’t confirm if Lodi Police would add more patrols to the garage.