D.C. clamps down to prevent parking boot theft

WASHINGTON — It might be safe to say — no driver relishes the moment of discovering a parking boot attached to his car.  But after a couple of unpaid parking or photo camera tickets, it could happen in the District.

Maybe you wanted to saw that boot off, or figure out some other way to remove that clamp to get your car moving again.

Some folks take action by stealing or destroying the boots, but that is a crime.

“What the District is doing now is clamping down, literally, on offenders more quickly, and if your vehicle is booted, they will now impound it or tow it more quickly to avoid this crime,” said John B. Townsend, spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Townsend also says it’s a widespread problem because about 100 boots go missing in the District each year.

Townsend says people attempt to get away with removing the boots by hacking off the boots or sawing them off. Others use YouTube tutorials and websites that show how to remove them.

The move isn’t a smart one.

“They have your tag number when they boot the vehicle so where would you go?  Where would you hide?  How could you avoid the long arm of the law?”

Folks who get caught could be fined as much as $1,000 and spend six months in jail.

AAA compiled the following statistics on how often vehicles are booted or towed:

                 Vehicles Booted or Towed in Washington, D.C.*
FY 2014 FY 2013 FY 2012 FY 2011 FY 2010 FY 2009 FY 2008
Vehicles Booted 11,090 6,864 15,409 22,351 21,586 14,114 18,607
Vehicles Towed 35,204 25,002 39,376 39,292 38,407 30,904 25,441

                             *Data from the Department of Public Works Performance Plans and Performance Accountability Reports


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