Parking Meter Thief
A thief is on the loose in Ocala--breaking into parking meters and taking them right out of the ground.
"One morning I come into work and six of the meters were gone," Cameron Matthews told TV20.
He is the owner of 1 Bad Cut, a barber shop located right in front of where several parking meters were vandalized last week on the corner of NW 1st Street and Magnolia Avenue.
"We've had probably 20 in the past 18 months stolen or vandalized," Police Sargeant Chas Maier said.
Some of meters were pried open while others taken right from the ground.
"It isn't something that can be done in a second, it actually takes some work to get them out," Maier said.
The meters do not hold a lot of money, and according to police, the thief could have gotten away with as little as a couple of dollars, while it will cost tax payers thousands.
Each parking meter costs more than $500.00 to repair.
Maier said that the thief may not realize that while he's ripping the taxpayers off for some change, the crime is considered a felony.
"Damage to the parking meters themselves makes it a grand theft, so it actually does become a felony," Maier said.
Police did arrest one suspect back in 2009 for stealing from parking meters, but they say he is not a suspect in these recent cases.
They are urging anyone who sees something suspicious to call police.
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