Home > Most Everything > Thieving and Leaving: A License Plate Mystery

Thieving and Leaving: A License Plate Mystery

Let’s take a trip back in our groovy time machine to Tuesday, July 7th, 2009.

I parked in a public parking lot, which of course costs money, because it’s “Downtown” and everyone is trying to make a dollar anyway they can (including terribly immoral ways, like selling drugs, sidewalk gambling, and daily paid parking).  I, being a total cheapskate and questionable dresser, decided to start parking a couple blocks away from my workplace in a $4.00/day parking lot.  Most other lots cost between $5.00 and $7.00 on a daily basis.  There is a feeling of security at any of these lots, because there is a large police station no more than 2 blocks from all of them.

On Tuesday, I was out of $1 bills, so I put a $5 bill into the $4.00 box.  I was parked in spot 22.  In case you’ve never used one of these parking systems, here’s an explanation of how it works: You park in any spot in the lot (as long as it isn’t reserved), and each spot has a number on it.  Then, you walk to a big metal box with a bunch of slots on it.  You put the corresponding amount of money into the slot which is marked with the identical number as your parking spot.

As I was leaving work on Tuesday, it was raining like CRAZY outside.  They were huge drops that probably had tiny rocks in them.  Fortunately, I had brought along my man bag for the first time, which happens to carry a very compact umbrella.  I had helped a couple of my co-workers (who were without umbrellas) reach their cars in relative dryness, then hitched a ride back to my car.  When I reached my car (still in a torrential downpour), I noticed a ticket on my windshield.  I peeled the sopping wet paper from under my wiper blade and started on my way home.  As I read the notice, I took note of several important details:

1. They said I didn’t pay for my parking that day

2. They were charging me $10.00

3. If I didn’t pay up in 14 days, they would charge me $75.00

Because I’m positive I had paid that day, I decided to write a letter of protest to send in with my check.  It read something like:

To Whom It May Concern,

I received the enclosed parking ticket Tuesday, July 7th, for non-payment in parking.  I distinctly remember putting a $5 bill into the appropriate slot for parking space 22.  The irony of this is that I actually overpaid and am receiving this notice for non-payment.  Please check your records to see if I had perhaps accidentally put the $5 bill into the wrong slot.  If you find that I have received this notice in error, please call me on my cell phone at 816-555-1234 (In retrospect, I should have left my actual phone number).

I hope you rot in prison someday,

Paul Ryser

The next morning my way to work, I dropped my check in the mail, and went on to my job.  You’re going to kick me right in the butt for this next part, as I did myself.    I decided to park in the same parking lot (and the same spot, now that I think about it) I did on Tuesday, despite the slap in the face I received from the lot owner.  Hey, it was still only 4 bucks, right?  What’s $10.00 between friends?  (Or, in this case, mortal enemies.)  Again, I had another wonderful day at the job I absolutely love, and left without incident.  I double-checked my windshield to make sure no ticket was staring back at me, and sure enough, none was.

Now, if only I had remembered to check the front and back of my car to make sure no one stole both of my license plates in broad daylight 2 stinking blocks away from a gigantic police station.  Darn, I forgot to make sure today.  Usually it’s all I think of when I’m leaving work.  I did not notice this important tidbit of information until I was back in my home city after getting a haircut.  So, I suppose I can’t be 100% sure that my plates were stolen downtown, but when I ask myself, “Do my plates have a greater likelihood of getting stolen in a suburb across from a Wal-Mart, or downtown across the street from a business that sells bail bonds?”

When I got home, I looked up the number for the KCPD so I could file a police report.  It’s actually very difficult to find the number for filing reports, because the only number they really make available is the one to call when you (or someone else) have been murdered.  That’s probably because that particular number gets used so much in that city.  Because of their high volume of calls at that moment (probably all homicides), the filing officer told me she’d have to take my name and number, and call me right back.

3 HOURS LATER, I thought it might be a good time to try calling back, to see if the murders had slowed down a little.  This time, I got a different officer, who referred me to call a different number, probably the station nearest to which the crime occurred.  This was about 9:15 PM.

I promptly called the newly-received number, and I kind-sounding woman answered.  “I need to file a police report.  My license plates were stolen today,”  The lady who was supposed to take my police report (read: “the lady who is paid to take police reports during the shift in which she is receiving wages”) replied, “I’m getting off in a few minutes, and the new shift will be here soon. Can you call back in about 15 minutes?”  REALLY???  This really just happened?  I’d have insisted she take my report anyway, since that’s her job, but I knew she would just do a half-complete job if I did.

I realize that stolen license plates aren’t the highest priority on the list, but it’s no wonder to me why KC is a cesspool of petty thievery and entitlement mentality.  My guess is that thieves know to steal things at 2:15, because all the cops will be “getting off soon”.  The police are saying, “Take whatever you want!  I get off in a few minutes!” or “Can you wait 15 minutes to steal that?  The new shift will be on by then.”

I called back, hoping I would get to talk to someone who actually works for a paycheck.  The lady I reached this time was much more helpful.  She said it would be a couple of minutes, because she was working on another report.  I was on hold for about 5 minutes, then she got back on the line to take my name and phone number so she could call me back.  Thankfully, she did, and I filed my police report with (any more) incidence.

Let’s go to Thursday.  Of course, I drove Claire’s car to work, because my car didn’t have plates.  I made sure to park in a parking garage, where people would actually be passing by, and question someone if they were taking someone’s plates off of their car.  After work, I hauled tail to my local DMV to get them replaced.  I burst through the doors at about 4:55, leaving 5 minutes to spare.  I have promised myself I will never leave them outside in the elements (the criminal elements, that is) again.  On Friday, I proudly drove my car to work, with the plates on the inside of my front and back windshields.  I have to go today and get new screws for my plates, because the thieves took them, too.  As much as I would love to keep my plates inside my car (and hide them under a pile of sweaters every time I park), it is illegal to do so.


Thanks for sticking around through 1,300 words of story.  May this never happen to you.

  1. Molly
    July 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Oh poor Paul! but I’m glad everything worked out for you in the end…( lazy, ungrateful officers )

  2. Anne-Lise Jasinski
    August 7, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    You have a gift for making the mundane worth reading. Thank you for leaving me feeling moderately enriched, even though I didn’t necessarily learn anything. 🙂

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