Free Parking Addicts Resort to Placard Smash-and-Grabs

The New York Post believes a rash of car break-ins in Washington Heights and the Bronx may be related to the recent news002b.jpgBloomberg administration parking placard crackdown.

Thieves desperate for highly coveted city parking permits have gone on a window-smashing spree in The Bronx and Washington Heights, breaking into at least 10 firefighters’ cars and swiping their union-issued placards, The Post has learned.

The sudden paucity of parking permits may be what has driven crooks to target the union placards given to firefighters – even though the cards aren’t city-issued and allow free parking only around firehouses.

An FDNY source said police permits were also being stolen from cop cars in the area – and winding up on the dashboards of civilian vehicles parked illegally in front of fire hydrants.

In some instances, according to firefighters, radios are also taken, but often the placard is the only item missing. Said Anthony Wilcox of Ladder Co. 47 in the Bronx, "I don’t know what the solution is, short of screwing [the placard] to the dashboard."

"I reported it to police, but it was just another break-in," said Wilcox, adding that he recently saw FDNY placards selling on eBay for up to $200. "It’s rampant."

Graphic: New York Post

  • Mark

    Or the placard owner could simply take it with him, as people already do with car stereos and GPS units. This should not be used as an excuse to re-expand the number of placards.

  • Jonathan

    Mark, the whole point of the placard is that the driver leaves it in the motorcar in plain view, so the traffic bunny moves on to the next illegally parked car.

  • Komanoff, add this to your list of what goes away with free public transit.

  • Josh

    Wouldn’t it be easy to, I don’t know, catch the people who are doing this since they’re parking cars in public with placards that aren’t theirs, or selling them on ebay (which is traceable)?

  • Jonathan

    Josh, I checked the auction site and the item copy (for a NYPD window decal, but same idea as the placard) says, “For collection purposes only.” All those sites cater ostensibly to police-paraphernalia buffs and people who just want to “support local law enforcement.” But you and I know what’s really going on.

  • Can’t do a sticker on the windscreen?

  • Dave

    A cop wouldn’t want a sticker since that would only let them illegally park one car…they want portability and to be able to abuse the law in any car they are in.

  • Again, I think the best way to do this is muni-meters everywhere and instead of a placard you give the current legal placard holders a free card to use at any muni-meter location. They would put the receipt in the window just like everyone else.

    If you don’t have a legal card, then you don’t get free parking period.

    Take the parking enforcement officer out of the decision-making role on which violations to ticket. You either have a valid receipt or not.

  • Innocent

    Why should anyone be able to park when they’re not on duty – and if they’re on duty, wouldn’t they be using the official car? What is the ostensible reason for the placards?

  • vnm

    You’ve gotta be pretty ballsy or pretty insane to break into a cop’s or firefighter’s personal car.

    What happens to the person whose car is broken into?

    He or hse gets a new placard and a “geez, that sucks, sorry about your window” from their supervisor.

    Now there are two nearly identical placards floating around out there, one legit, one stolen but still looking valid.

    What does it cost to fix a car window?

    What is the annual value of free parking anywhere, any time, for one’s spouse?

    Anybody else thinking what I’m thinking?

  • anonymous

    By the way, “socialscientist”, this will not in any way go away with free public transit. Cops already have free access to the subway and bus systems, and yet they are among the most prolific users and abusers of parking placards.

  • ddartley

    anonymous, If cops’ BADGES were made to also be rfid tags that could open any and every MTA entrance point, that might be more effective in coaxing some of them to use transit rather than drive than the present system of free metrocards, which must surely be cumbersome to administrate. Metrocards also get left at home, forgotten about, and/or lost. Cops’ badges don’t quite suffer as much neglect, I’m sure.

    (This system should one day get rolled out for all emergency responders, not just cops, of course.)

  • Josh

    Jonathan, I see what you’re saying, but selling stolen property is selling stolen property, regardless of what purpose you say you’re selling it for. If the powers that be are serious about curbing abuse, they should be looking at every one of these listings.

  • roy

    As an fdny ff, I can attest that an FD parking placard does not allow one “free parking” or even a professional courtesy from meter maids.

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