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Stockton, Calif. Parking Meters Disappearing

In Stockton, Calif., almost 700 parking meters have gone missing in the last year. Recent video surveillance shows the thief rolling a stroller up to a meter and dismantling the meter head. He plops the meter head into the stroller and ambles away. Pictures of the theft are on nbcsandiego.com.

Motorists are confused and police are frustrated.

“We don’t understand why they’re down here because they’re not making that much money,” Stockton police Officer Joe Silva said.

I have to disagree with Officer Silva. Stockton police say almost 700 meters have been stolen and, according to the video, it takes the thief a few minutes to do his dirty work. Let’s say the stolen meters each have about $15 in change inside – and I’m estimating low – then the thief has made about $10,500 in the last year. Divide $10,500 by the amount of time he’s spent cutting the heads off parking meters – we’ll go with 5 minutes a piece – and that’s 3,500 minutes, or 58 hours. This guy is making $180 per hour stealing parking meters.

The risk he takes is high, but so is his profit. His overhead is a stroller and a few tools, which he’s possibly also stolen. He might have to give a percentage to Coinstar for counting his change, but it’s a small amount. No doubt his other job(s) involve taking things that aren’t his. I’m not saying $10,500 a year is enough to live the high life, but it’s a pretty good return on his time commitment, expenditures and effort.

I think it’s time to stop being shocked that these meters are being stolen and start making it harder to steal them.

Watch the video here.

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