Car’s Owner Receives Multiple Parking Tickets For Car That Had Been Stolen

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San Francisco is a notoriously difficult place to park, not so much because of the hills but because of the relatively small size of the city and its downtown.  Adding to the fun is the zeal of its parking control officers.

This one may not be their fault, but it’s somebody’s fault.

Last September, Michelle Vuckovich’s car was stolen from her home in South San Francisco.  She called police and someone was there to take her report within 30 minutes.  As you might expect, California has a system for listing stolen cars statewide, and Vuckovich’s car was listed there right away.

Then she started to get parking tickets.

As SF Chronicle columnists Philip Matier and Andrew Ross reported in December, Vuckovich got a parking citation in the mail a few weeks later.  She noticed that her car had been ticketed just a few hours after it was stolen, so it was possible that the car had not been listed yet.  But then she got another ticket the next day, by which time the theft list had been updated.

Then she got another one.  Then six more.

Vuckovich got a total of 29 parking tickets from the San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic after she had reported her car stolen.  Police were unsure why the parking officers had never run the plate to see whether the car was stolen, especially since at least seven of the tickets were issued in less than a week while the car was parked on the same block of Grant Avenue in the North Beach neighborhood.  (It was near Grant and Filbert, if you live in SF and want to know where at least one car thief lives and/or works.)

DPT officials said that the officers involved should not necessarily be blamed because their hand-held devices store theft information only from the San Francisco database.  (Vuckovich lived in South San Francisco, which is actually a different city and county.)   But they also did not have a good explanation for why no one ever ran the plate in the course of writing any of the 29 tickets Vuckovich got.  Nor do they seem to have investigated any of the locations where the car was parked (sometimes repeatedly), although it would be hard to link a parking spot to any particular address.

Still, Vuckovich thought she would give that a try.  She and a friend drove around the city scouting out the locations that appeared on the tickets.  It took them about three hours to find the car.  It was parked near Folsom and Sixth Streets, two blocks from a police station.  When police arrived (an hour later), they got the car unlocked and turned it back over to Vuckovich.

They lost her driver’s license in the course of doing the paperwork, but at least she has her car back.

Link: SF Chronicle