SXSW Fake Parking Spaces
Updated: Tuesday, March 11 2014, 06:23 PM CDT
Criminals are cashing in on South by Southwest. They're making money on what is in shortest supply, parking spaces. On Tuesday, Austin police chased down one suspect who couldn't get away, fast enough.
"I pulled up right here and he was waving us this way," said Stephen Addison who was desperate to find a parking place. "He said its $5 and he had the tickets and he broke me one off."
It was not his lucky day.
"I should have known," said the Houston man who is in Austin for SXSW.
Known that no one pays $5 for a parking space this close to downtown during SXSW.
"It's a real spot, but the guy selling it is a fraud," said Sgt. Chris Carlisle.
The real spots belong to the non-profit agency, Any Baby Can, located at 1121 East 7th Street.
"A brazen move," said Allison Daskam with Any Baby Can.
Employees were inside watching a man sell their parking spaces during regular business hours.
"So, we've never seen it before, but APD was immediately responsive," said Daskam.
Photographer Mario Pena and I actually saw the suspect running from police. He ran down a row of cars and when he got to one car he threw something underneath.
We checked it out and what we found was a book of parking receipts.
"He's giving them a fake receipt that he stole from somewhere, in return for what they think is a really good deal on parking," said Sgt. Carlisle with APD's bike patrol.
The receipts look legitimate. And out-of-towners here for SXSW are none the wiser until they come back to the lot and find their cars have been towed.
"This is our busiest week, for stuff like this," said Sgt. Carlisle.
But, police say it happens every time Austin plays host to a big event.
"I should have known, people take advantage of any chance they get," said Addison.
Austin police say companies aren't going to sell their parking spaces during normal business hours. And, if someone offers you a space during SXSW for $5, keep looking.
The suspect was arrested and is being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.