Why do Parking Thieves Seldom Go to Jail?


Why do Parking Thieves Seldom Go to Jail?

Here's a great story A woman worked in two garages in downtown Honolulu. Both it appears were owned by the city. She admitted to stealing nearly half a million dollars from the two garages – over $15,000 a month – but the city isn't pushing for her to go to prison.

The reason is typical. It seems that the city first of all didn't realize that the money was being stolen (a whistle blower filled them in) and second, they really can't prove it. Neither the city nor the operator had enough documentation to go back and support an audit which would have proven the loss.

Oh they know the money is gone. It's pretty easy to figure out. Count the number of cars in the garage on an average week, or month, and figure the average amount of money that should have been paid per car, and do the math. Ok, so you are off 20%. So what, at least you have a ball park number. And that number is half a mil. Hell – maybe it was only 400k? It's still grand theft.

However if you have all the money stashed away, you can hire a pretty good lawyer. I can hear the conversation during the negotiations. It probably went something like "gee if you don't let my client walk, she can talk about what a shoddy job you civil servants did supervising the people's money. That could go all the way to the mayor. Gee I think I have the number of the Honolulu Advertiser right here in my Blackberry." And the rest is history. Our hero moves to Japan and lives handily on her lucre and in the end, get this, has to pay $200 a month restitution. She will be caught up in about 275 years. The judge wanted to give a stronger sentence, but the DA settled.

My auditor friends tell me that it is seldom seen to be in the best interest of the operator or the owner, whether it is the city or a private firm, to prosecute. Unless they set up a "sting" and get the cops involved, prosecutors don't want the deal, plus in these situations, everyone looks bad. Best to just fire the individual and let it go at that.

I think this is so much hooey. Until we put thieving employees in jail, we will continue to have thieving employees. If they know that the worst that will happen is a pink slip, why would they alter their behavior.

I'm sure the folks in Honolulu are sitting stunned with open mouths that a person can steal that much and get away with it. But then, after all it's only the parking business, and we all know how scummy that business is.

This is the kind of PR that takes one hell of a lot of "good works" and "toy exchanges for citations" to counter.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. In the words of one of the parking industry’s Hall of Famer’s; “We don’t hire thieves, we create ’em.”
    The big black eye for the parking industry in this case is that there was that level of theft for that long of a period of time with no one catching on. The way to prevent this type of situation is to implement and follow the basic cash control procedures that most of us learned within the first week on the job. If those simple policies had been followed my guess is this problem would have been caught within a week.
    You’re spot on with your guess as to the conversation with the lawyer, this is being swept under the rug in order to prevent multiple black eyes for those in positions higher up.
    Workplace theft is a multi-billion $ issue that impacts every industry out there, from retail to charity organizations to medical offices to community little league teams. It’s sad that the majority of it within our industry could be prevented with only a very minor amount of effort.

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