Snitchin results in arrest in parking box theft

A suspect was charged early this morning in connection with the theft of several of the hefty pay-and-display parking boxes from city streets, police said.

Jeffery Kaput, 38, of the 5500 block of West Cortez Street, was charged with four felony theft counts related to the 200-pound LAZ boxes, according to police. He was also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Kaput was pulled over late Monday at 5518 W. Augusta Blvd. by an Area 5 robbery mission team after police had received a description from a witness of a car that had collided with one of the LAZ parking boxes, according to a police report.

Officers also had video evidence of the same vehicle being used by a suspect who dumped one of the meters, the report said.

The drug charge pertained to a crack pipe that police said Kaput admitted he had dropped as officers pulled him over about 11:45 p.m., according to the report.

Earlier this month, police said about 20 parking boxes have been stolen since Sept. 17, with only four recovered.

The thefts occurred citywide, with nearly half in Area 5 on the Northwest Side. It was not known how much money the boxes had held.

The deal that privatized the city's parking meters has been a political nightmare for Mayor Richard Daley and aldermen who granted lightning-fast approval of the the 75-year, $1.15 billion lease of the city's 36,000 meters.

The theft of the meters is still being investigated by Area 4 and Area 5 detectives.

Kaput is scheduled to appear in bond court later today.

from the Trib


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Electronic pay machines stolen in continued sabotage of parking meters

Irate drivers may have found one way to deal with Chicago's new parking meters.

Twenty of the 200-pound electronic parking pay machines have been stolen throughout Chicago since Sept. 17, police department spokesman Roderick Drew said in an e-mail. It isn't known how much cash may have been taken from the stolen machines, he said.

Four of the pay machines have been recovered, Drew said.

Drivers who paid for parking with a credit card shouldn't be concerned about their information being stolen because the machines don't store credit card numbers, Drew said.

Although the thefts have been reported citywide, nearly half have occurred in the Grand Central Area on the Northwest Side, he said.

"Area 5 Detectives have been working with LAZ Parking to address this issue. Residents who witness vandalism or suspicious behavior should call police immediately," Drew said.

Police are still investigating, he said.

Nearly two years ago, the city signed a 75-year parking meter lease with Chicago Parking Meters LLC that led to soaring rates and initial troubles with jammed, broken and error-prone meters that angered many drivers.

Avis LaVelle, a spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters LLC, said in a statement she could not confirm the reports of thefts.

But she added, "Theft or destruction of pay boxes and meters is regarded as a very serious offense and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

If a driver comes across a parking spot with a missing pay box, he or she should find another nearby box, LaVelle said.

If there is no box, the driver can park, then should call the customer service line of meter operator LAZ Parking at ... to notify the company of the missing box. That call is used as "documentation of defense in the event of a possible citation," LaVelle said.

from the Trib