Parking lot ‘sheriff’ jailed for draconian towing scam

Parking lot 'sheriff' jailed for draconian towing scam
Photo: DPA
An Augsburg man dubbed the “Parking Lot Sheriff” by the German media was handed a four-and-a-half year sentence on Monday for a systematic extortion scam involving confiscating cars and demanding sky-high fees.

The regional court in the Bavarian city convicted the 30-year-old of extortion, coercion and defamation after a number of witnesses accused him of charging exorbitant sums for supposed parking violations.

He and a colleague reportedly bilked drivers out of hundreds of euros for briefly parking or even just driving through their private parking lot, earning up to €12,000 per week on the charges.

“I didn’t even park, I only drove across the parking lot and was supposed to pay €230,” one victim said during the trial.

Even a fire department rescue vehicle was blocked by the “sheriff,” witnesses said.

The man was particularly militant about one parking lot at an Augsburg clinic, where he would immediately attach wheel clamps to cars that stopped briefly. The clamps were only removed when the alleged violator paid the fine.

In other instances the vehicles were quickly towed to a nearby side street, and drivers were not allowed to know their car’s location until they handed over cash.

Prosecutors had pushed for a five year sentence.

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