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“Insurance Rep told me it was the THIRD call this morning where a car was broken into in DC and only the Visitor Parking Permit was taken”

by Prince Of Petworth May 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm 29 Comments

smash vpp

A reader reports:

“My car window was broken out this morning on P St SW, about 3 blocks from the Waterfront Metro. Only the Visitor Parking Permit was taken from the vehicle, and no other “valuables” (I live in Columbia Heights so I know enough not to leave anything visible in my car). What is interesting is that when I called my insurance company, the rep who answered told me it was the THIRD call that he alone had received this morning where a car was broken into in DC and only the Visitor Parking Permit was taken.

In one case, he said a woman left a backpack on her front seat and it was not touched. Shortly after the police came, a woman stopped me on the street to say that she saw several other cars with shattered windows in the neighborhood this morning. I filed a police report, and while the officer was extremely nice & professional, he said that they would not actively be looking for the parking permit.

I understand the crime is relatively minor, but this is they type of crime that is rampant in this city that seems to go completely unchecked. As the VPPs have unique number identifiers on them and can only be used in relatively small areas, it seems like something that could be theoretically found by Parking Enforcement.

In any event, I’m curious how widespread these break-ins were this morning? And for what purpose? Perhaps to sell to commuters in nearby L’Enfant or to Stadium goers who don’t know you can’t use these more than a few times in a month without the car getting flagged by Parking Enforcement for improper use of the VPP?”

  • SW Resident

    I parked my car on Delaware Ave SW last night with a VPP from my friend who lives in the Carrollsburg Condo complex and my windows were completely intact. I asked to borrow it since the newer apartment buildings in the area are zoned NO RPP and I haven’t gotten my garage pass yet. Normally its not a problem because the RPPs are barely enforced, especially on M St. You aren’t even supposed to be able to park on M St by the Safeway at all from 7am – 630pm and people do it anyway without consequence.

    • SWChick

      The signs are conflicting, (like most dc streets, so you just have to “know”) but you are allowed to park on M st on the Safeway side between 9:30 am-4pm weekdays. Your car will be towed if parked there before 9:30 am or between 4-6:30pm weekdays. Trust me. I’ve been towed and so have my guests. RPP is on the other side of M st.

      • SW Resident

        The holy grail is to get one of those 5 magic spots on 6th St next to Arena Stage, which have got to be the only remaining unrestricted parking left in all of DC. That or wait until school is out for summer so you can park on I St in front of Amidon Bowen Elementary.

  • HIll Easter

    I’m sorry this happened. But LOL – there is no “flagging” by DDOT. This is a rampant problem and DDOT just turns a blind eye to it.

    • ParkViewneighbor

      Just following the lead from the very top which turns a blind eye to everything that does not fit the picture perfect image of DC they want to create. Sweeping under the rug is easier than addressing issues but well, why be surprised anyway

  • navyard

    That’s Zone 6D right? I’m over by Navy Yard, which is the same zone. We have many people who park anywhere from 10th to 2nd with VPPs every day who work at DOT, DCFS, and even the Navy Yard. There is no enforcement. There are often craigslist posts to sell these permits.

    As a defense against thefts, I write my name and address in sharpie on the permit. Not sure if that works…I don’t use it all that often.

  • H St Resident

    Sorry about the break in, but if you live in Columbia Heights, why do you need a VPP?

    • Anon Spock

      Visiting perhaps….

    • Anonymous

      My guess is it’s because they were parking in a different zone from where they live.

    • DCResidente

      Imma need you to pull out a map, compass, and protractor for this exercise. Waterfront is not near Columbia Heights, hence the need for the now stolen VPP. Reading is fundamental.

  • Marc

    That’s alarming. I have a VPP that I primarily use when I rent cars overnight (nobody visits me, sadly). I could see if people want one of these, but breaking a window to get one? That’s bold, consider it sounds as though it was daytime and glass breaking makes a pretty clear sound. I always figured if mine got stolen, I could ask DDOT to cancel it and issue us a new one. I just assume that they have a record of which VPP ID # was assigned to be mailed to which address that requested it.

    • DDOT having a record and anyone giving a damn are two very different things. Smash and grab of anything from a car is never going to be found or prosecuted. It is zero risk for the thief, so if they get even $50.00 selling it on CL or anywhere, they are doing fine.

  • Cassie

    That same thing happened to me last fall! There were multiple cars that got broken into on the same night. It’s almost like it’s one person/group of people doing it and they target a bunch of cars in one night. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    • Anonymous

      There have also been reports on this listserv of multiple car windows smashed on a particular block for no reason – some yahoo just decided to smash a bunch of car windows or break a bunch of side mirrors just because.

  • HC

    When is it time to officially call the VPP experiment a failure?

    VPPs get stolen out of cars, sold on Craigslist, abused by commuters, and literally no one in city government does anything about it. Just be rid of this mess of a program already.

    • Anon Imus

      Maybe because many people use them legitimately and without incident? They just don’t write into PoP when a guest of theirs uses a VPP when that happens. Every issue you listed is fixable, not that I’m holding my breath for any fixes to actually happen.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly. Just because something is a big thing on a listserv doesn’t mean it’s as big of a thing as some people are making it out to be.
        The passes are already zone specific. They are coded (or capable of being coded) with electronic information. It’s easy to envision a system where VPP holders are required to go online to activate the pass whenever it is going to be used. That would also allow VPP holders to deactivate a stolen VPP – in the same way that you can deactivate a stolen metrocard if it has been registered with Metro.
        Whether any of that comes to pass is an open question. But then again, there are plenty of more pressing issues for the City to deal with.

    • Actually most people using VPP are legitimate homeowners who appreciate the limitations. With a low guestimate of 80% proper use, and 80% commuters respecting the restrictions, it still makes life infinitely better for those of us who live in tempting parking neighborhoods.

  • cachito

    Well, this is terrifying. I’m car-sitting for a friend whose out of the country for two weeks so she doesn’t get street cleaning tickets, and I just threw my VPP on the dash and parked it on my street.

    • Anonymous

      No idea where your street is but I live in Park View and there have been cars parked on my street with VPPs in the window for weeks on end. Have not seen or heard of any break ins targeted at those passes. I believe it’s safe to say that you are way more likely to get your window smashed to facilitate stealing a bag or something else of potential value that has been left inside than a VPP.

    • Anon

      Can you use a VPP like that? I thought it was for short term and you got the longer term ones from the police station, still.

  • gg

    WRITE YOUR NAME ALL OVER YOUR PASS in sharpie!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Just curious. What would this do? There is a visitor parking permit in my car with the name “Jane Doe’ written on it. Are the parking police really going to verify that Jane Doe gave me permission to use her pass.

    • Effie

      Okay, they can just cover that up with something – that doesn’t do much

  • say what

    apparently this happens all the time in SW. Kids steal the visitor parking and then use them on game days for a price for people looking to park on the streets here that are restricted on game days.

  • Another SW resident

    This happened to my guest’s car at 4th and O St. SW last year. It’s very frustrating that our guests’ cars aren’t safe. The parking permit office didn’t seem to care, and never sent me a replacement despite my calls. Not that I’d let anyone use the pass anyway. It’s cheaper to park illegally and get a ticket than to replace a car window. Clearly this system isn’t working, and something better needs to be developed.

    • navyard

      All the DOT cars are very happy with the system, as they just buy the stolen passes and then use them to park in SE. It works great for them!

  • OP Anon

    Serious question: do the DPW parking officers actually scan the barcodes on the pass through the windshield? If not, what’s the purpose of putting the unique identifiers on each pass? I’ve never seen one of them scan the pass.

  • SE resident

    This happened to a visiting friend a couple years ago – all sorts of stuff in the car (I know, I know, I told him) but only the VPP taken. I have gotten subsequent passes laminated (8.5 x 11, costs less than $3 at Kinko’s) so they cannot be easily pocketed. Since then, no trouble.


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