Archive for Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thief chops down and steals five downtown Lawrence parking meters; police seek public’s help

July 2, 2013


Lawrence crime, fire, courts coverage
Have a tip?
Contact Journal-World reporter Caitlin Doornbos:

There's got to be an easier way to pick up a little pocket change.

Lawrence police are looking for help from the public in finding a thief who has been cutting down and making off with downtown parking meters.

The thief has apparently used a pipe cutter, or a similar tool, to saw off parking meter posts about midway, a couple of feet from the ground. One of the stolen parking meters was later recovered in rural Douglas County, but it's unknown what happened to the rest.

Police have counted five meters stolen since April, in the 700 and 800 blocks of New Hampshire Street, the 600 block of Rhode Island Street, the 100 block of East Sixth St., and the 600 block of Vermont Street.

Downtown Lawrence has seen its parking meters robbed before. At least two parking meters were reported stolen in Lawrence in 2010, though it's not clear how they were removed.

Other cities have seen far worse: Atlanta, in 2007, saw thieves cut down and abscond with 500 parking meters over the course of a year.

In other Lawrence cases, said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman, the modus operandi was more sophisticated.

"In the past, someone had gotten a key and was removing the coins just the way a meter collector would," McKinley said. "This, where we have to replace the meters and set the concrete again, it's an expensive deal for us."

The destruction of parking meters that has gone on through June is far more costly than the loss of the coins, McKinley said, which probably didn't amount to much money. The cost to replace the post and purchase the meter heads is approximately $800 for the single meters and $1600 for dual-meter assemblies.

Police are asking business owners, residents and visitors to call 911 if they see someone suspicious tampering with a parking meter. City employees working on the meters or issuing parking citations should be wearing yellow uniform shirts, or be in another city uniform, and should be carrying city-issued identification. They also work regular daytime hours from Monday to Saturday.

"We don't usually like to say exactly when our people are working," McKinley said, referring to parking control workers. "But if you see someone out on a Sunday, or at 10 o'clock at night, it's probably not us."

Police are asking anyone with information about these crimes to call the Lawrence Police Department at 832-7509 or the Tips Hotline at 843-TIPS(8477).

Callers to the tips hotline may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.


uncleandyt 4 years, 11 months ago

...a complete lack of respect for the law.

pizzapete 4 years, 11 months ago

Stealing five parking meters, that's nothing. I know a guy who built a high rise apartment building with no parking and instead took over an entire public parking garage. And for his next trick he's building a hotel and setting up a special tax district to pay himself back for the private parking garage he's building for it.

Tim Quest 4 years, 11 months ago

They're not after the change. They're after the scrap metal value. Probably meth fiends.

George_Braziller 4 years, 11 months ago

There never were any parking meters in the 600 block of Rhode Island Street so I'm not sure how they could have been stolen.

Ian_Cummings 4 years, 11 months ago

There is a city parking lot with meters right off Rhode Island Street, in the 600 block. Ian Cummings, LJW.

George_Braziller 4 years, 11 months ago

No city parking lots I know of with meters in the 600 block of Rhode Island and I've lived on the street for 20 years. Possibly the upper level of the parking garage? If it is, calling that the 600 block of Rhode Island is a stretch.

Garth Atchison 4 years, 11 months ago

Ian tried to explain it to you--the 600 block puts you near the outlet mall and the old sunflower cablevision building--and there is totally a metered parking lot there. The city doesn't like free parking for downtown employees.

Dan Blomgren 4 years, 11 months ago

Hey Police Chief,

Just check the 50K camera system we had installed last year. Certainly it has picked up the culprits on film. I'm mean that's what it's there for. Certainly our money was spent wisely and we just have to review the tapes to catch the perp.

After this crime is solved thanks to our high tech security system we should have cameras put on every corner. Way to go Dick Tracy!

Ian_Cummings 4 years, 11 months ago

The downtown surveillance cameras the police talked about last year have not been installed. They were to be paid for with a federal grant. Ian Cummings, LJW.

James Minor 4 years, 11 months ago

Mr. No Eyes will catch him the next time he is shaking the tree!

vann_dango 4 years, 11 months ago

so no one thought to look outside when they heard metal being cut away?? I am sure this is not a noisless process

Ken Lassman 4 years, 11 months ago

By the "sound" of it, you've never used a pipe cutter, which is a manual tool that makes almost no noise at all. You'd probably have to have a backpack to carry one big enough to cut the pipe on a parking meter; otherwise it might be pretty obvious to police if they see some guy walking around with a pipe cutter. Of course the backpack might be handy in carrying away a parking meter, too. Gad! Amazing how the mind runs with this stuff!

oldvet 4 years, 11 months ago

A 4-blade pipe cutter would take those poles down in less than 60 seconds each and you would never hear a thing. It's small enough to fit in a shopping bag, grocery bag or backpack.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

The good citizens of Lawrence spent a couple million dollars attracting these kind of thieves. The recent expansion even brought in more. Now they are at or near capacity. Pony up some more money and and City Hall air condition system will be gone next. According to the county attorney, a theft of less than $50 worth of change and they won't even be charged with a crime

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

Why do you hate the homeless so much? It's really sad seeing post after post where you blame every problem in Lawrence on the homeless. You'd better hope you never end up in financial trouble and need assistance. Having that kind of hatred for your fellow man isn't healthy. I hope you don't "claim" to be a Christian.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence goes out of the way to attract these low life people that leach off of other people's generosity. They bring with them drugs and crime. To me that is a very good reason to not like them. People that condone their behavior are contributing to the problem. Are you one of them?

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

We need blue lights on the meters so the police can tell if they are stolen.

50YearResident 4 years, 11 months ago

Ian, how do you chop down a steel post? I have seen it done to trees with an axe.

somebodynew 4 years, 11 months ago

They make pipe cutters (plumbers use them) that would take those things off in just a few minutes. And probably wouldn't make too much noise. Of course this guy had to steal one of those first, but that is what a thief does I guess.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

Acetylene would take one down in about 15 seconds. It's makes fire that can actually melt steel contrary to what Rosie O'Donnell might tell you.

waitjustaminute 4 years, 11 months ago

Drones. Heat seeking, laser guided, missile carrying, wmd weapon enhanced, video capturing, mind altering, solar powered, soul scrubbing, truth detecting drones. (The solar powered was for all the tree huggers.) Don't mess with a revenue source, you scoundrels.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

parking meters you say?
why that's old tech!
deserved to be stolen just because it's so 1800's.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

If replacing the meters is truly "far more costly" than the loss of the coins, why bother replacing them? Just turn it into free parking.

Bob Forer 4 years, 11 months ago

More stupid criminals. There can't be a whole lot of money in those meters. And its quite a risk cutting one off and stealing in in downtown Lawrence, regardless of the time of day or night. Maybe the crook is stupid enough to try to sell it on eBay, where they bring $40-$80.

workinghard 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank heavens they didn't steal the ones that collect money for the homeless. :0)

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

I do not ever advocate crime. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from this, however. Taxpayers pay for the streets and parking places already. Perhaps someone thinks that is enough and doesn't like having to pay to park on the street and parking places they have already paid for?

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

I think they are more about getting you to spend your money faster and getting you out so the next walking pocketbook can get in. It's not a bad idea if you have a store downtown. It keeps the looky-Lous out of the money's way.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

Here's a simple way to solve the problem. Install the new kind of meters that take credit cards. They wouldn't have to install one for every single parking spot like we currently have and it would be nice to be able to swipe your card and cover your car for however long you park. They can't cut these down easily. I've loved using these in larger cities that I've visited. You don't have to worry about running back to the meter to add more change.

We can't do this because we're spending millions for an unneeded rec center.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 11 months ago

I would like to know where they are going to see the parking meters. It must be obvious they are stolen. I can't see frat boys doing that.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

frat boys do all kindsa dumb stuff Frankie!

uncleandyt 4 years, 11 months ago

Parking meters should have cameras in them, really good cameras, good enough to do retina scans. freedom

uncleandyt 4 years, 11 months ago

Answer a question to continue reading? WOW and $$$

Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

With expanded city growth crime is the new industry in Lawrence which must pay well. If new growing crime rates is any indicator.

Lawrence advertising for well to do citizens must be encouraging the well trained criminal to set up shop.

More new growth brings on higher crime rates and tax increases. The cost of sprawl is beyond reality.

Armored_One 4 years, 11 months ago

Bet good money that the cut off heads will end up in the river. Back when newspaper stands were being stolen, I'm pretty sure that is where the empty ones were dumped.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.