Troubleshooter: Where's my car?

Towing sign

April 8, 2011 3:58:30 PM PDT
Ellen Stutts has used the Woodcroft Shopping Center parking lot for years to catch a Triangle Transit bus that stops nearby. So it was a huge surprise when she got off the bus recently.

"I came out and my car was gone, and at first, I thought it was stolen," she said.

Madu Dev says she had the same thought.

"I got off the bus and see my car missing and I said 'Oh my God, where is my car?'"

Shannon Jones had the same experience.

"My car isn't here and I'm thinking, 'Okay, I park here every day?'" she said.

There are signs throughout the parking lot saying that it's for customers only and all others will be towed. But the three women say the signs just went up in the last few weeks. Plus, the area they park their cars has no signs warning that it's for customers only. The only sign we found in that area say no dumping.

"They have the customer parking signs over there, but nothing over here. So the fact that this area isn't marked, we thought it was okay, Stutts explained.

Plus, all three say they got no warning.

"I have no idea why they did this. We were parking here for years, and there was no notification. And the tow truck driver told me they came at 7 a.m. in the morning watched for two hours before they starting towing and made note of everyone that got on the bus," said Stutts.

Dev is even more frustrated as she says, while she did park here to catch the bus every day, she also is a frequent customer of the Woodcroft Shopping Center. "We are customers. We live in this area," she said.

None of the cars were towed to a Durham tow lot. Instead, they all had to make the trek to Raleigh and pay $135 to get their cars back.

"I'm a graduate student. My salary is not that big, so that's a huge chunk for something this ridiculous," offered Jones.

And the trio said it's ironic the towing started this month.

"I'm just really ticked off at Woodcroft management. This is Try Transit month of all the times they have to tow us, classy," said Stutts.

A representative of Regency Centers, which owns the shopping center, said they exhausted all efforts to stop non-patron parking, which is private. He said last month, they added three customer parking only signs to their already existing eight signs throughout the property. He added they had a representative in the parking lot on two different occasions issuing verbal warnings and also says Regency placed fliers on cars indicating they would enforce towing against illegally parked vehicles.

Regency Centers offered the following statement:

"Regency is committed to protecting the livelihoods of our Tenants who depend upon convenient and adequate parking. Tenants at Woodcroft Shopping Center pay rent and maintenance fees for the exclusive use of these facilities. After receiving repeated tenant calls about reduced parking due to transit bus riders, Regency had no choice but to enforce the towing policy. We have offered to reimburse the towing fees on this one occasion. In the future, we ask that commuters respect Regency's policy that parking in our centers is reserved for patrons."

Triangle Transit said it is aware this towing is now happening, said they're working on a solution and also have contacted the management office to see if they're open to leasing spaces for park and ride use. It says it realizes there really is not good place to park to catch the bus at that stop.

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