By Dorothy Tucker, Carol Thompson
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chrissy Monaco often visits a friend in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood, so she’s well aware of the sign warning that no parking is permitted overnight from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. in that block.
“That’s why I left at 11:15 p.m.,” she said.
But, when she started to drive home, her car had disappeared from where she had parked. It was at 471 N. McClurg Ct. She was metered paid until 11:33 p.m.
“It was 11:15 p.m. and my car was completely gone. So I start to panic,” said Monaco.
She began calling private towing companies, noting that “11:27 a.m., I think, was my first call to them” — then the city’s towing information line to find her car.
“There is still no evidence that my car was towed away,” she said.
Eventually, she called 911 to report her car stolen, then filed a police report. Monaco did all of these things before midnight when the ‘no parking, towing zone’ rule came into effect.
Where did she find her car?
“It was the Chicago tow and it’s only about two blocks from here,” she said.
That’s right, it was in the city of Chicago Central Auto Pound, 400 E. Lower Wacker Dr. It’s exactly half a mile from where his car was parked – just a 2 minute drive, according to Google Maps. But she didn’t find her car until two hours after it was towed at 1:30 a.m.
When she picked up her car later that day, she got another surprise – this one on her windshield.
“There was a ticket on my car saying I was parked there illegally after midnight,” she said.
Monaco says it was angry because “the ticket itself says the date of issue was 12/06 which is Monday not Sunday evening, and the time of the breach is 12:30”. She said it happened “even though I was already towed away” at 11.15pm – 45 minutes before midnight – when she left her friend’s house to drive home.
How did it happen?
So how was Monaco fined and towed in the first place?
CBS 2 investigators sent multiple emails to various city departments asking about the improper towing and handwritten ticket.
The Treasury sent us to the Chicago Police Department. CPD never responded. But, we got a response from the Department of Streets and Sanitation and received a confession. They admitted that their “tow truck driver had towed the vehicle by mistake”.
What about the handwritten parking ticket with the time of 12:30 for violating the overnight parking ban? All made up.
“I was just upset,” Monaco said. “It’s just proof that Chicago stole my car that night.”
We spoke with experts who told us that there are digital handheld devices that generate parking tickets. This would not allow errors like handwritten errors in the case of Monaco. Tickets automatically mark the time and location of tickets and often include photos.
The Department of Treasury (DOF) provided us with figures detailing the number of parking tickets generated by device versus handwritten tickets issued in Chicago in 2021 – more than 1.8 million parking tickets combined. More than 388,000 of them were handwritten, mostly by CPD enforcers who still use ticket books.
The Department of Streets and Sanitation added that of those more than 388,000 handwritten tickets, more than 23,000 were written by tow truck drivers in the city. Streets and San calls incidents like the fake Monaco ticket and the wrong tow a “rare occurrence”.
A week after finding her car impounded in the city, Monaco challenged the ticket in court, “because I knew it wasn’t my fault,” she said.
She won. She received the ticket with the promise of being reimbursed $175 for the towing and storage costs she had to pay to get her car back. This decision was made on December 13, 2021. But somehow the ticket was resurrected and sent back to him in January with a reminder in mid-February.
A DOF spokesperson told us how Monaco’s rejected ticket came back to life: “The handwritten ticket had not yet been scanned into the system before it was rejected. The ticket was scanned into the system on 1/4/2022. »
This was three weeks after Monaco challenged that ticket and won.
The DOF goes on to say, “Since the ticket was not paid or disputed, a Notice of Violation was mailed on 01/15/2022. No response or appeal was received from the motorist, therefore, a Notice of Determination was mailed on 02/12/2022. »
A Streets and Sanitation spokesperson added that the department is “moving to a digital system to track towed vehicles.” This would speed up the process of finding a towed car. Streets and San added that it will “examine the possibility of using a digital system for DSS tickets”. The digital towing system is expected to be operational in early 2023.
During the period when Monaco received the rejected ticket again and again, they were also still waiting for their refund check. It was posted on 2/15/2022 after we started asking the city about his case.
CBS 2 investigators are still awaiting the public records requests we sent to the city to help determine how many other drivers, like Monaco, were wrongfully towed.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you regarding your inappropriate City of Chicago tickets and tows. Please complete the form below to contact us.