Parking violators owe Detroit tens of thousands for unpaid tickets

Posted at 11:00 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 13:07:12-04

"Man that's a lot of money!"

Detroiters expressed shock with what the 7 Investigators uncovered: A list of those with the most unpaid parking tickets, people cheating the financially-strapped city out of tons of cash.  

We asked the city for the names of the top 15 biggest violators. All together, they owe Detroit nearly $70,000 in unpaid tickets.

But the complete list is much longer, dating back nearly a decade and the dollar amount, sources say, is in the millions.

The data provided to us was current as of September of this year. Some of those listed may have paid towards their debt. But to accumulate fines in the thousands of dollars---you have to be doing your best to duck and hide.

But you can't hide from 7 Action News.

"The city says you have 27 [tickets]...does that ring a bell?" we asked one Detroit woman who owed the city more than $3,000 in unpaid fines.

She claims she just posted the cash.

"I paid everything, just this week," she said.

"I don't know," she replied when asked how she accumulated so many tickets.

We tracked down others on the list.

"Hi, I am looking for Ayana," we asked a man through a window in Oak Park.

The woman living there has racked up 47 tickets and failed to pay more than $3,000 as well. Her uncle told us through the window, she has "money problems."

The city says they are working each week to track down their owed money. That includes new technology with parking enforcement.

"They have a camera on top [of the vehicles].... to see if you are a scofflaw," says Norman White with the City of Detroit.

And there is an increase in fine hunters.

"In the past we just had one or two cars a week that would find them---now we have over 20."

In fact the city says, "Over the last 30 days we found close to 90 to 100 of these folks and collected over $130,000," says White. "We can boot their car, take their car, if they don't pay... we can auction off the car."

But finding those on the list isn't always easy, leading to the backlog. Addresses change, as we found too. We hit lots of dead ends in our search for violators.

However, the top name on the list? Rent A Ride USA. The company owes nearly $14,000 and has more than a 1,000 unpaid tickets.

We tracked down the owner of the now defunct company, who claims he didn't rent, but leased cars, thus, he isn't liable.

"I believe the customers who got the tickets, it's their responsibility to pay that money."

That's for him and the city to work out.

Meanwhile Detroit says all you have to do is go online or show up in person to pay, and the city will happily work out a payment plan for you.