Parking Meter Pay Boxes Damaged In North Side Vandalism Spree

An enraged gentleman attacks a parking meter in Lakeview In March, 2009,

An enraged gentleman attacks a parking meter with a chunk of concrete in Lakeview in March, 2009,

A parking meter vandalism spree has erupted on the city’s North Side five years after Chicago’s parking meter system officially transferred into the private control of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC which spurred a similar rash of meter vandalism back in 2009.

The Chicago Police Department reported Thursday at least 13 pay boxes were damaged using a heavy blunt object or tool in the Lakeview, Wicker Park, West Town and Andersonville neighborhoods. The damage has been severe enough to disable the units from working properly.

Back in March of 2009, in what seemed to be an angry reaction to a highly unpopular parking meter lease deal, which caused parking meter rates to quadruple, parking meters across the city were smashed, spray painted and lit on fire.

In the subsequent five years traditional single head parking meters were replaced by multi-space parking meter pay boxes and the mood of drivers cooled. But apparently some motorists may still be harboring frustration with the hated deal and parking meter rates which rank as the highest in the nation.

The recent meter vandalism spree took place over a two to three day period late last week, between March 12th and 14th. Curiously, according to CPD, most of the incidents took place in broad daylight.

In a “business alert” released Monday afternoon, “Unknown Offender(s) are damaging the parking meters owned by LAZ PARKING. The offender(s) are breaking the display glass, credit card readers and display brackets by use of a blunt instrument or tool, thereby causing meter malfunction or shut down.”

But the police are looking for the public’s help in apprehending whomever is involved with this criminal damage to property.

CPD recommends calling 911 if you see someone in the act of destroying a meter pay box or have any information related to these incidents, contact the Bureau of Detectives – Area North at (312) 744-8263.

While drivers are not required to pay a broken or malfunctioning parking meter pay box LAZ customer service personnel advise using another nearby meter if you park near an inoperable unit.

Motorists parked adjacent to a broken meter who are issued an expired meter parking violation can contest the ticket as long as they report the meter to 877-242-7901 or online within 24 hours.

Drivers should make note of the incident report number to reference when contesting the ticket.

Chicago Parking Meters, LLC did not respond to requests for comment on the incidents.

Here’s a partial list of some of damaged pay boxes including incident dates, times and pay box locations.

  • 900 block of W. Chicago Ave on March 12, 2014 at 12:00 P.M.
  • 900 block of W. Ogden Ave on March 12, 2014 at 12:00 P.M.
  • 3700 block of N. Racine on March 12, 2014 at 3:00P.M.
  • 700 block of W. Buckingham on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 4500 block of N. Clark on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 A.M.
  • 4800 block of N. Clark on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 1600 block of W. North on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 1400 block of W. Summerdale on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 5700 block of N. Broadway on March 13, 2014 at 1:00 A.M.
  • 1600 block of W. North on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 1100 block of W. Rosemont on March 13, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 1100 block of W. Waveland on March 12, 2014 at 3:00 P.M.
  • 1600 block of N. Wood on March 14, 2014 at 4:00 A.M.

22 Responses to Parking Meter Pay Boxes Damaged In North Side Vandalism Spree

  1. Anonymouse says:

    Outstanding! Please take out the speed cameras next. And tell us citizens the best way to do it so we can help you.

  2. Mike says:

    My hero!

  3. Bob says:

    No one should be surprised by this. LAZ parking should be paying for monitoring and protecting these since the own them.

    Let the police fight social crimes like murders and shootings.

  4. Greg says:

    Good luck on getting the public’s help on this.

    And I am not one to advocate violent actions, but…

  5. John Doe says:

    Like the public is going to help. But then I’m sure next year when rates go up again LAZ will find a way to stick it to us for their broken equipment.

  6. […] Screaming for Vengeance? Meters Smashed on 5th Anniversary of Parking Deal (Expired Meter) […]

  7. Matt says:

    that man looks enraged, and calling him a ‘gentle-man’ may be pushing the limits.

  8. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    I’m looking forward to what Jeff and Pete have to say on this story AND this classic photo.

  9. Jeff says:

    This is your brain.

    And this is your brain after plugging all your spare change into the parking meter, and still getting a ticket, because you lost track of time trying to remember where you left your shirt.


  10. Jeff says:

    While this gentleman has anger issues, I do admire his fashion sense.

    But I think he is somewhat confused about how cameras work. It looks like he is trying to take a selfie of his daring deed with an Ann Sathers cinnamon roll, instead of a cell phone.

  11. Jeff says:

    There should be a more stealth way to do this kind of civil disobedience – perhaps destroying the photovoltaic cell that powers the meter. Drano or some other caustic substance might fit the bill.

  12. David says:

    I don’t advocate vandalism, but I sure had hoped that “God” would have stepped in and destroyed a whole slew of these boxes with the Polar Vortex and the like. In theory, these boxes must be made perfectly to survive such harsh conditions. And like the roads, as they get older, they become more susceptible to water leaks, and in turn, if water gets inside and freezes, to major damage…. Go Jack Frost Go.

    As for public help in catching the criminals, I don’t think that we are required to disclose what we saw… particularly as I don’t think any of us would be sure…. but reporting the bad boxes….. well if enough people try to report the bad boxes in a short period of time, perhaps it will cause the Laz customer (dis)service to collapse.

  13. Jeff says:

    While the Polar Vortex could put the whammy on the LAZ meters (if Chicago were to experience sustained periods of 30 below air temperatures/80 below windchills, like we experienced in January of 1985), the effect on cars would be worse.

    And for those of you who thought that buying an electric car meant no more winter car trouble, guess again:

  14. ejhickey says:

    FROM THE ARTICLE: “While drivers are not required to pay a broken or malfunctioning parking meter pay box LAZ customer service personnel advise using another nearby meter if you park near an inoperable unit.”

    of course CPM is going to say that. they wan their revenue stream to continu even if street parkers have no lrgal obligation to pay for a spot where the meter is damaged. also in using a nearby meter, you are actually paying for a parking spot where you are NOT parked.

  15. I’m certainly am going to keep my “eyes pealed” and be on the prowl for these miscreats. Judging by the public interest and the inherent box weaknesses this may go viral replete with video instructions. In the
    meantime I’ll keep a vigil from the suburbs.. BTW, green LASER

  16. ejhickey says:

    personally i have not ruled out spontaneous explosions as the cause of damage to these lovely meters which grace our streets and boulevards. as one writer suggested the cause may be weather related. i lean towards sunspots as a possible cause. i seriously doubt whether any of our good citizens could be commit such terrible acts and therefore the CPD is wasting valuable resouces in searching for individuals who may or may not have done this. however i am concerned about innocent civilians, especially the children, being injured by flying glass and metal from the spontaneously exploding machines. therefore , to protect the public and especially the children, i think LAZ should remove ALL of their meters until we are sure it is safe to have them on the streets. LAZ shoul be willing to sacrifice a litte revenue in the name of public safety

  17. Jeff says:

    Somewhere out there, a computer hacker may be planning an attack on LAZ’s parking meter system. Maybe reset all of the meters to provide free parking for a week. Maybe turn all meters off completely for days. Maybe overwhelm the LAZ servers with a “denial of service” attack, so no credit card payments can be processed. C’mon nerds, we need your help on this one.

  18. B says:

    Now that winter is over take all the dibs crap and put it in the metered spots? :) Or on the speed cameras?

  19. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Hey everyone,

    I am doing a story about declining red light ticket numbers and was
    looking to get some quote some local drivers.

    The thing I’m curious about is if drivers are using the pedestrian
    countdown timers to help them adjust their speed or when they should start
    braking in order to either get through the intersection or stop before the
    light turns red at intersections with red light cameras?

    Do you use the countdown timers in this way? If so, are you up for sharing
    your thoughts on this? How you use them? If you feel it helps you avoid
    red light tickets? Do you feel the countdown timers are helping drive the
    reduction in ticketing?

    I’d appreciate any input you would like to share for my story.

    If you could, please e-mail me your thoughts at: info (at)


  20. Pete says:

    Somehow I doubt the police will be getting any calls from concerned citizens regarding parking meter damage. Most people will certainly look the other way.

  21. PulSe says:

    Help STOP these vandals !

    The authorities were able to create a colorized composite sketch of the vandals owing to several eye-witness reports:

  22. saucexx says:


    Can’t help, I’ve never gotten a red light ticket. Parking, RLC and speed camera tickets are on my list of things “not to do” so as to avoid enriching City Hall Parasites.

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