Parking meter theft is a costly nuisance to the city of Stockton and its taxpayers.
Nearly 700 parking meters were stolen over the past year, and it has cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace them, officials said. Each parking meter contains only about $3 to $10 after a mobile app was introduced, but that has not stopped thieves.
“There’s not too many people putting money in parking meters anymore,” said Joe Silva, Stockton police spokesman. “Previously those thieves were cutting the meters out of the poles, but now they are using tools to pry them off.”
Stockton police released photos on social media of a man suspected of stealing more than five parking meters Monday and asked the public for information that may lead to an arrest. A local business’ security footage captured a white-bearded man with a baby stroller taking a parking meter in daytime.
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“Obviously the suspect is very bold and didn’t care about who saw what,” Silva said. “We believe he is transient and frequent in the Stockton area.”
It costs $800 for the city to install a new parking meter, including the costs of installation and lost revenue, said Connie Cochran, city spokeswoman, and residents’ tax money is often used to offset those costs.
“This is very disruptive and destructive,” Cochran said. “It’s just a little bit of pocket money, but it ultimately costs taxpayers a lot of money.”
If thieves are caught with one meter, they will be charged for a misdemeanor, but if caught with two or more, they can be arrested and charged with grand theft, police said. Those parked in a spot with a missing meter won’t get a ticket if they follow the posted time restrictions, police said.
Citizens are asked to call or text Stockton Police at 209-937-8377 and Crime Stoppers at 209-946-0600 for information pertaining to the investigation. Informers can be rewarded up to $10,000.