An investigation has found that some valet companies are handing cars over to people without tickets, allowing them to take off with vehicles they don't own.
An Inside Edition investigation put valet companies to the test after interviewing a man whose car was given to a thief when he left it with a valet.
Josh Gelle said he returned from dinner in Newport Beach, Calif., and found the valet had given his car away to a man who asked for it without showing a ticket.
Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero rented a $40,000 Mercedes and handed it over to several valet companies in different cities to see if the car was safe.
First, she dropped off the car at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, N.Y. Two hours later, an Inside Edition investigative producer showed up to see if he could pick up the car without a ticket.
At first, the valet was hesitant.
“I’m not supposed to get cars without their [ticket],” he said.
But after the producer pointed to the Mercedes, the valet went to retrieve it. After paying a $7 valet charge, he was able to drive off in Guerrero’s Mercedes.
At the Cherry Hill Mall near Philadelphia, Guerrero again dropped off the black Mercedes, and this time, the valet asked for her first name to associate it with the vehicle.
But when our producer showed up to get the car, the valet never asked for the ticket and instead, offered up Guerrero’s name. "It was Lisa, right?" he said.
"I think so," The producer replied. It was enough to get him the car.
When Guerrero returned to pick up her car, the valet was stunned. “I think your husband took it,” he said.
Inside Edition reached out to all the independently operated valet companies, but they declined to comment.
So how can you prevent valet car thefts?
Lonnie Reynolds, the owner of American Limo and Parking, says that if someone shows up without a claim ticket, the valet should ask to see a driver’s license to check if the name matches up with the car’s registration.
He also uses another tactic. “I'll take the person over to the board and I'll say can you spot the keys and usually they can’t recognize the keys because they've never seen the keys,” said Reynolds.