Dear PoPville – Creepy Van: No Props to the Cops

“Dear PoPville,

This van has been broken down in front of my house at 11th and Girard for four days now. Aside from the fact that I worry some creepy, mustachioed man is going to hop out and start offering the neighborhood eight-year olds candy, the thing is in a “No Standing Anytime” bus zone. You’d expect MPD to be all over towing that thing, given parking enforcement is something – one of the few things – they do on a consistent, predictable basis. But, you’d be wrong. We’ve called the cops twice; they’ve come, poked around with their flashlights, and left without doing anything. Not even a parking ticket. Oh, and what about the hand-written, paper license plate? Nothing suspect at all…”

55 Comment

  • I wouldn’t be too concerned about anyone giving kids candy from that van. It would probably look more like this if they were going to do that….

    • So all mustachioed men hide in vans and give candy to kids?

      • No – you have the syllogism wrong: all sketchy vans have mustachioed men hiding inside them waiting to give candy to kids. It’s just a subset of mustachioed men hiding in vans; they don’t all do it.

        Like so:

        All sketchy vans contain mustachioed men giving candy to kids.

        There is a sketchy van on 11th & Girard.

        Therefore, the van on 11th & Girad has a mustachioed man hiding inside waiting to give candy to kids.

        • But there wasnt a mustachioed man in the van,it was only the OP’s imagination.
          So…you dont make sense either. 😉

  • I’d try 311. It’s actually the DPW that handles parking enforcement in the District and I think the tows as well. I had success finding them on Twitter. @DCDPW

  • But of course they can ticket thousands of other legally parked, registered cars every day to keep that money flowing in….

  • Yep. Why are you calling the cops, call 311 (or “See Click Fix” it). Took about three days to get an abandoned car flagged for towing on our street.

    • Regardless of whether or not the poster SHOULD have called the cops (which does not seem unreasonable to me, although I’m not sure if I would have) I think the police SHOULD do something about this once they have been notified.

      I have to think in most cities the police would take some sort of action on this. It’s so odd to me that we in DC always think “I should have called 311, THAT will get something done.”

      • ah

        +1. The cops do have authority to write parking tickets. It’s just beneath them most of the time.

        • Just like to point out that writing a ticket would do no good here. We used to ticket abandoned cars all the time to keep our quota, I mean minimum monthly performance standard. But technically, if it has a certain number of tickets on it, it’s considered abandoned and a tow is called.

  • Exactly. They’re always so efficient with ticketing me–especially when I’m parked legally. Why the hell does the guy with a crayon license plate get a pass?

    • Cops aren’t ticketing you, parking enforcement is. Parking enforcement is not staffed with cops.

      If you’re going to complain, complain about something that can be reasonably addressed.

      Calling PEPCO won’t get this car towed either, FYI.

    • figby

      Obviously a cop owns the van.

  • I don’t understand why people are always against affordable housing.

  • Maybe contact your councilmember?

  • Belongs to a cop or someone a cop knows, guaranteed.

  • Only parking ticket I ever received in DC: I pulled up to the side, got out of my car to check the signage, realized it was street-cleaning time (it was, I believe 9:02, and cleaning was from 9:00-10:30 or something), so I got back in my car and drove off.

    I was probably pulled over for all of 45 seconds, but 2 weeks later, a parking ticket with a a photo of my car/plate showed up – you can even see me standing next to the car! I didn’t bother wasting the time contesting.

    They’re smart in DC by making the tickets expensive enough to be a pain, but not so expensive that it’s worth my time to spend hours contesting a $35 ticket.

      • On what grounds would he contest? He was parked illegally, even if only for a minute. It happened to be that minute when they came by with the cameras. Sucks, I know, but technically, he’s in the wrong.

        I’m not at all defending the lie-in-wait technique that parking enforcement uses, by the way. Just saying that you’d have to “wronged” before you deserve to be “righted”.

        • ah

          I was responding more to the “hours contesting” part than the merits (given it’s too late anyway).

          For 10 minutes of work and a stamp, I’d take a shot the reviewer isn’t a total asshole and accepts the explanation.

    • A partking enforcement agent hipped me to that move a couple of years ago. She told me that the City was equipping street sweepers with cameras so that they can can pictures of any cars parked in their way when they come to clean the street. The tickets get sent out by mail.
      The agents are johnny on the spot with the parking enforcement. I saw one guy ticketing a car on my way to work today. The No Parking period began at 9:30 and he was writing someone up at 9:35.

  • Did anyone ever hear the this American Life episode about the bait car?

  • yes! i learned to drive in pretty much that exact model chevy van, only we had the pop up top with the skylights (and it was blue). parallel parked it on the driving test. and in georgetown for homecoming. bam!

  • It is probably a legal mess to ticket, let alone tow, a van with a paper license plate. However, I don’t get a creepy vibe. After a week I would call 311. Looks like the van died and the person is trying to get the part to replace.

  • Maybe it is an undercover police surveillance vehicle.

  • So let me get this right – a suspicious (unattended bag) results in metro closing, but a van with a paper liscense plate parked illegally can sit for days with no attention.

    Call Mr. Graham’s office.

  • Props for the excellent parking job (minus the no standing business).

  • that plate isn’t even found in the DC online ticket lookup service.

    seems very fishy to me.

  • The paper license plate is priceless. As if a cop is going to pull the guy over and be like “Oh ok, no problem, you don’t have a real license plate but that paper one will do.”


  • There are probably cops sitting in it watching the crack house across teh street

  • call homeland security…

  • Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children?!?

  • why would a cop surveylance car be parked illegally?

  • Why ticket someone who clearly can’t afford to repair and register a vehicle? Just get the thing off the street and mail a ticket to the address the paper plated has registered to it, and be done with it.

  • Dude, its only 4 days. Even if he got a ticket, unless its resident parking it would only be for failure to move the vehicle in a three day period. Also, lots of people get their tags stolen, the cops probably matched the written tag to the VIN and unless there was outstanding warrents on the owner or excessive tickets no big deal.

    I dunno, maybe put a note on the car and ask when they will move it.

  • So… there’s a broken down van here. And the story is?

  • What about that homeland security number where “if you see something say something”. Maybe they’ll tow it away for you.

  • When I’ve had strange cars parked on my street for months at a time and flat tires, etc, I’ve reported it using the form on the DC gov site. It’s worked every time. I’ve probably done it over five times.

    One time I had a creepy broken down van behind my house and a big old tree fell right on it. The city removed the tree then cops came and ticketed the expired van…then it went away. kind of poetic justice.

  • The police sometimes leave decoy cars to induce theft and then arrest those that steal them. It’s best to stay far away from the car lest you get charged with attempted car theft.

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