How Could this Happen — $1.4 MM Gone


How Could this Happen — $1.4 MM Gone

Correspondent Michael sent in this story about a couple of parking attendants who, over a three year period stole $1.4 million in cash from the 2000 car surface lot at the Smithsonian air and space center near Washington DC.  They were caught after a confidential informant tipped off the Smithsonian and the FBI.

The Office of the Inspector General and the FBI then began auditing the facility by actually, can you believe it, counting all the cars that came in on given days and reconciling the number with the amount of cash turned in. (This was a flat rate lot so it was rather a simple procedure.)

Once they had some numbers, it was fairly easy to extrapolate the amount stolen, determine the culprits, and send them to jail.

Does anyone see a problem here?

If you read the attached article you will find that the lot was being run by a parking operator, a very well known and respected operator in the DC area. Where were they when all this was going on.  The inference is that the manager of the lot was at least aware of the scam and getting some kickbacks.

Don’t operator’s have auditors and shouldn’t they periodically sit outside the lot, count the cars coming in and compare that with the “take.”  This is not brain surgery. It seems that the operator did little to stop the thefts until the CUSTOMER actually discovered it and took action. (They did install counters but they were easily unplugged. THE CUSTOMER installed tamper proof counters after the theft was discovered.)

And you wonder why customers complain about the fees charged by operators.



Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. The operator is potentially liable for the stolen money. Too often operators try to operate on a shoe string and minimal fees and never develop their infrastructure to prevent theft. One must have a layered approach of technology, auditors and analysis of revenue-ticket ave norms. I have had great auditors like Al O Hara (ala Sherlock)who smelled out that something was amiss thus protecting the company and the client. If industry norm is having audits and auditors and the operator was not auditing there is a potential suit.

    Charles Huntzinger

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