Counterfeit Kookies

Call it that Deep Ellum entrepreneurial spirit, but some creative street people have seized a money-making opportunity that lies in city parking lots.

Subsequently, some unsuspecting visitors to the city's Left Bank have been more than a little put out upon returning to the lots to find their cars--and the people they paid to park--gone.

At city lots, you're supposed to put money in those slotted metal parking boxes when an attendant is not on duty. If an attendant shows up and there's no money in the box corresponding to the car in the space, your car is towed and you pay to recover it.

One Dallas woman was upset when her son paid a towing company a total of $90 ($65 for towing, $15 for storing, and $10 for preservation) after he paid an attendant who turned out to be a homeless person to park in a North Crowdus lot.

"It just irritates me when I know people are making money off of unsuspecting, honest people," she says. "Of course, I called Deep Ellum [Association] and they said they were aware of it, but something needs to be done because these people are making a fortune."

According to the Deep Ellum Assoc-iation Executive Director DeeAnna Mercer and Dallas Police Department Lt. Jeff Cotner, people should notify the police if they suspect that an impostor is taking motorists' money for parking.

"It's very important that you call 911 for any suspicious action, no matter how small," Mercer says.

Both Mercer and Cotner also advise people to make sure that the person they pay is uniformed with a parking company shirt, apron or hat that displays the company logo. Unfortunately, the untrained eye often finds it hard to separate impostors from bona fide attendants--even when the latter are wearing company shirts.

--Kim Jarrett

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Kim Jarrett