INSIDE EDITION Investigates Parking Scams

Cities issue parking placards to government employees on official business and people with disabilities.  But INSIDE EDITION found many people scamming the system.  Lisa Guerrero reports.

Just try finding a parking spot in a big city like New York. Forgetaboutit! No parking. No stopping. No standing. Just reading the signs could give you a headache.

But we found that for some people, parking is a breeze. They just use a parking placard, slap it on their dashboard, and then they can park just about anywhere they want for free.

But we found many people scamming the system. We took a look at one block in downtown Brooklyn, near the Municipal Office building. There's no parking allowed on either side. But we watched as it filled up every morning. Each car had an official-looking placard saying Court Clerk or Court Officer on the dashboard. But the placards are actually printed by their unions. They're not official and shouldn't allow any special parking priveldeges, but they seem to work.

We watched as traffic enforcement agents walked right by and didn't issue one ticket.

Paul White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives says, "What we have is a whole class of city employees who think it's their priviledge to park wherever they want for free. All you need is a laminated piece of paper with the word 'official' on it and you can get away with it."

We saw a woman park on two different days with a Court Clerk placard in her dashboard. She had no fear of getting a ticket. Is she trying to beat the system?

INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero approached the woman and said, "I'm Lisa Guerrero with INSIDE EDITION. Do you know this is a no parking zone?"

"Thank you, I'm aware," replied the woman as she got into her car.

Guerrero asked, "But why are you using this? You are using your placard improperly to park here. This doesn't allow you to park for free, does it?"

She turned her placard over, but on the back it said "It is not a parking permit."

We tried to talk to other drivers, but all of them drove off without saying a word.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been cracking down on illegal parking. So we told him what we discovered.

Guerrero said to Bloomberg, "We found recently that there are folks using union placards to park illegally and yet they're not getting ticketed. Do you have a response to that?"

"If you have a placard from your mother or your union, most traffic agents would not use that as a deterent for writing a ticket. They would write the least they should," said Bloomberg.

"They should," said Guerrero.

Bloomberg replied, "They should, sure they should. Your union doesn't have the right to give you a free parking place."

And check out what another woman did to get a free parking spot in Manhattan. People in the neighborhood say they saw her park illegally day after day for two years and she never received a ticket. So how did she do it?

She used a handicapped placard, but she didn't seem disabled at all. Every day after parking she would walk a short distance to her job at a dental office. We met her one day as she returned to her car.

Guerrero said. "Hi, I'm Lisa Guererro with INSIDE EDITION. Is that your car right there?"

"No," said the woman.

"That's not your car?"

"No," the woman repeated.

That's funny, it sure looked like the car she drove to work everyday.

"That handicapped placard doesn't belong to you?" asked Guerrero.

"You're right, and it belongs to my father," said the woman.

"Right, so why are you using it to park here in New York?" asked Guerrero.

She replied, "My father is here in the city." 

"You're using the card so that you can get a better parking spot," said Guerrero.

"No, that's not what I'm doing it for, absolutely not," she said.

"Well your dad is not in the car when you are using it," said Guerrero.

"Yes, he will be here," she said.

"Well, we've been watching you park near your office," said Guerrero.

"But he will be here and I will pick him up on the corner, so obviously you don't know what you are talking about," she said.

A few days later, she wasn't parked illegally anymore. Yep, she did what the rest of us have to to park in a garage.

INSIDE EDITION contacted the unions that issue the placards for Court Officers and Court Clerks and neither responded.