Be wary the next time someone approaches you in a parking lot and tells you he can sell you a monthly pass. At one downtown parking lot, police records say, that is the tactic a robber used recently to stick-up a driver—and it could be a pattern.
According to a police report filed by Officer Henry Feldmann, a woman parked her car in a pay lot on 8th Avenue and Pine Street before work on May 31, but she was having problems using the electronic pay station. At that point, a man who claimed to work for the lot—wearing khaki shorts and khaki hat with along with a brown zip-up sweatshirt—offered to help her purchase a long-term parking pass when she returned, and asked where she worked, the report says. (It turns out, the report explains, he went to her work later to ask another employee when she finished her shift.)
When she returned at 1:00 a.m., there he was. The persistent man asked if she had the money for the pass—a sum undisclosed in the police report—so she turned away to dig through her purse. After a nudge on the shoulder, she reportedly turned back around to see that he had brandished a "black semi-automatic looking handgun," prompting her to boldly ask, "What the hell are you doing?"
The man simply insisted that she hand over the money, which she did, according to the report. Still, the man allegedly stuck the gun in her face and said, "You seem like a wholesome girl, like you might even go to church...so consider yourself lucky." The robber then took off, and the woman got in her car and drove home, too shaken to call police immediately.
The victim finally decided to contact authorities, but only after she contacted the manager of the parking lot. "The manager of the parking lot... told her that this was not the first time an incident like that had happened," Officer Feldmann's report says.
We couldn't confirm exactly which parking lot this was. At 8th and Pine, there is an Impark lot, and adjacent on 9th and Pine, there is a Diamond lot. Both have electronic payment systems. At the Impark location, there is a sign indicating that there is no attendant on duty.
Repeated calls to Impark management from The Stranger have gone unreturned, but I did speak to Wes Green, director of risk management at Diamond Parking, which operates an adjacent lot on 9th and Pine. He told me that while he had not heard of this specific incident, or any gun-related stickups, the parking industry does have a nickname for these kinds of perpetrators: "pretendants." He advises parkers not to trust anyone claiming to be an attendant who does not have a uniform and clearly visible badge. Additionally, any lot that uses an electronic pay machine will not typically have a human attendant on duty. So please be wary, downtown parkers.