Chicago thieves are making off with 200-pound devices the city has installed on the streets to collect money for parking. Twenty have been stolen in recent weeks, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The parking boxes are part of a 75-year, $1.15 billion deal that privatized the city’s 36,000 meters.
The Sun-Times says the parking meter deal has been a political nightmare for Mayor Richard Daley and aldermen who granted lightning-fast approval of the deal. Steep rate increases that forced drivers to stuff their pockets with quarters would have been bad enough. Broken and frozen pay-and-display boxes — there are 3,000 citywide — and overstuffed and improperly calibrated meters that overcharged motorists made it even worse. Motorists were so incensed by the rate hikes tied to the deal, they vandalized and boycotted meters, leading to a dramatic drop in on-street parking.