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Va. woman's car towed once to be towed again

Wednesday - 5/30/2012, 2:47pm  ET

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Nicolaidis' parking spot on First Street SE. (Courtesy Virginia Nicolaidis)
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Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It was a dream night at Nats Park that turned into a nightmare for a local woman.

Virginia Nicolaidis of Alexandria took her son to the ballpark on May 14 for his 10th birthday. It also happened to be the night that Bryce Harper hit his first Major League home run.

But when Nicolaidis and her son went to find their car on First Street, SE after the game, it was gone. Towed.

"I started to panic, as any mother with a 10 year old on a street in Southeast on a rainy Monday night would probably feel," Nicolaidis tells WTOP.

She managed to track down a police officer that drove her around looking for her car. Finally, they found the car parked a couple of blocks away. It had been towed to another tow-away zone.

"The officer himself said you were parked in a perfectly legal spot - and you were towed, so that you could be towed again. It was his reaction that made me realize there's something terribly wrong here," said Nicolaidis.

So, she decided to fight the towing charges and the two tickets she received totaling $130.

The District Department of Public Works says sometimes these so-called courtesy tows do happen if there are complaints about parking issues.

"There are always complaints," DPW spokesperson Nancee Lyons says. "One of our most requested services is parking enforcement."

Lyons says there is an increased focus on parking enforcement around the ballpark when games are going on, but DPW maintains that there was a reason to tow Nicolaidis' car.

"Our officers felt pretty strongly that they were in the right issuing that ticket (and the tow)," says Lyons.

However, after being contacted by WTOP, the two tickets are now being thrown out. DPW says the officer that issued the original ticket marked the wrong city quadrant on the ticket.

Nicolaidis thinks the whole issue could be about something else completely.

"If they are using it as a revenue raising tool, they should be ashamed of themselves," says Nicolaidis. "We are coming to the city to spend our money. I will never park on the street again. I think it is embarrassing for the city."

DPW and the District Department of Transportation say they will look into potential parking problems around the ballpark.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)