It has been reported that 548 parking meters have been stolen off the streets of Atlanta, GA in the past year. That’s 39% of the total meters in the city of the Peaches.
Now get this. They are doing nothing about it. It turns out that they don’t even report the thefts to the Police. The local police say that unless someone reports the crime, they have better things to do.
The meters cost $500 each to replace. That means that over a quarter of a million dollars in city owned property has been stolen (not counting the money in the meters) and they are doing nothing about it. They couldn’t even walk down the hall and file a report. This has to be going on all the time, the numbers say that at a minimum two of these are going missing every business day.
The reporters for the Atlanta Constitution didn’t ask the important question: "Why?"
I can guess. The city is in a project to replace the meters with a Pay and Display system. So why trouble themselves looking for thieves, who, most likely, are a small, organized group that has the equipment to cut off the meters in a hurry and take them. (The city could probably buy them back on eBay where meters sell for anywhere from $150 to $300 each) Most likely someone has seen the act and if the police asked a few questions, the evil parking thieves might be caught. But, no one seems to care.
Read about it here.
This is a problem for the parking industry as a whole. The message they are sending is that parking equipment and paying for parking and following the rules isn’t that important. This story has been reprinted in Minneapolis, New York, Canada, and picked up by the AP. Folks all across the parking plain in the US will be reading it and thinking "Gee, I can do whatever I want with parking meters and no one will care."
The city feels that when they get the new, multi space meters, since they are more secure and heavier than single space meters, they won’t have a problem. My guess is that the thieves will simply upgrade their tools and take them, too. Why not? No one has come after them so far. Then Atlanta will be looking at a $15,000 invoice for each meter stolen. Will that be enough to get their attention?