Last Updated on August 3, 2017 by Lawrence Berezin
Here’s how a fire hydrant ticket and tow scam works
You find a parking space near a fire hydrant. You get out of your car and measure the distance, step-by-step, from your car to the pump. You’re a good 18 feet away. Wow, this must be your lucky day.
Unfortunately, your lucky day turns into a nightmare. When you return to your car or the parking space where you parked your car, it’s gone. The old NYC cocktail, a parking ticket & tow. You spend hours getting your car out of the pound, and when you look at your parking ticket, the parking ticket reflects you were 5 feet from the pump. The parking ticket warrior swears to it!
Shame, Shame, Shame. Once your car is towed, you cannot take a photograph to offer as evidence you parked more than 15 feet from the fire hydrant. Beware the fire hydrant scam
Some Stories from members of the NYC driving public
“I have lived near the spot of my ticket, 120th and Claremont, for over 15 years and know the parking rules well, which is why I DID NOT park closer than 15 feet from a hydrant. To make matters worse, the vehicle is my mother’s car that I’ve borrowed, with out-of-state plates, and suspect this is why a parking warrior tagged me with a “6 feet from hydrant” bogus ticket. The ticket was issued at 9:33 am, and my car was immediately towed so no pictures were available. My blood boiled when I discovered my missing car. What can I do? It will cost me more to miss work than pay the $300+, but this just ain’t right, picking on “tourists” or whomever is gullible enough to park on corrupt NYC streets. Please advise!!! Posted @ Thursday, March 25, 2010 4:17 PM by Nick
My story is similar to the one above (120th & Claremont). I was parked on Claremont just north of 122nd St. more than 15 feet from a hydrant. My car was ticketed and towed with the violation stating that I was parked 5 feet from a hydrant. I appealed by mail and the appeal was denied. My building superintendent told me that the same thing almost happened to him. However, he was present when they were about to ticket his car. He asked the officer what was the problem and the reply was that the car was too close to the hydrant. The super demonstrated that the distance was over 17 feet by pacing it with his feet. The officer apologized and proceeded on his way. This clearly indicates that this outrage is a pattern that could be citywide. I consulted with my State Assemblyman’s office and they supported my decision to make a second appeal. I will let you know how this turns out. This is a serious situation and the media should be alerted to what is going on. I appreciate this blog as a valuable tool for achieving justice. Posted @ Wednesday, April 28, 2010 9:36 PM by Norman
James submits a form and says:
“You mention that the best way to prove that a parking ticket is invalid is by proving that my vehicle was parked legally. What if my car was towed immediately upon the issuance of the violation? I parked what I am confident was an adequate distance from a hydrant. I went to check on my car about 8:30 AM, and it was gone. I went to the impound lot later that day to retrieve my car, and I found that the ticket was issued at 8:09 AM. Its clear the ticket agent was working on or with a tow truck. At this point, the only defense I can see is that the location submitted is inaccurate and doesn’t mesh with the distance to the hydrant (the location is an estimation in feet from the nearest cross street). Without the chance to photograph my car where it was, I don’t know what else I’ve got!
The best offense is a good defense
I sound like a broken record (Frank Sinatra would be nice). When you park your car within towing distance of a fire hydrant you must hope for the best and prepare for the worse. Please take some photographs with your cell camera. Capture the distance between your vehicle and the pump. Include some landmarks in the photo, along with your car and pump. This way you can measure the distance from the landmark to the pump, in the becoming more likely event, your vehicle is towed.
Don’t just park there, protect yourself. You face a $115 parking ticket, with no reduction.
Another please, please do not park within 15 feet of the pump. It is a real, live safety hazard. Do not park 15 feet and one smidgen from the pump. Play it safe and document your distance with a few cell phone camera photographs. You’ll be glad you did.
I pretty much shared my opinions in the last part of my blog posts. I would add one thing. Shame on the warriors and tow operators engaged in this scam. Good things are paid forward, and bad things are paid back. Let’s alert the media. Send letters to the NYC_DOF, NYC_DOT and include the name and id number of the warrior and tow Guy/Guyette.
Here’s an example of the only type of parking sign that allows you to park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant (on a certain day)
This bad behavior has to stop!
Please join the conversation if this scam happened to you!