SEATTLE -- In a city with a picture-perfect skyline, it's no secret that parking can be a problem - just ask the city itself.
"There's a few people who are in the 'exceptional' category when it comes to what we would consider a scofflaw," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, spokesman for the Seattle Police Department. "Ultimately it doesn't matter if you owe $500 to the city or $50,000 to the city; what we would hope is you would do the right thing and start going about the process to pay it back."
Hundreds of people haven't paid the city for parking fines they've racked up, city records show. The top five parking scofflaws have collectively amassed a six figure amount in unpaid tickets.
"What we have here are a few people who try to game the system," Whitcomb added.
City records show that Seattle is owed $166,366.12 from the top five worst offenders. One man alone has racked up more than $78,000 in fines related to unpaid parking tickets.
When asked how that could happen, a Seattle Police spokesperson said it used to be easier for scofflaws to evade the law.
"I think there's a period of time where there wasn't a really solution to deal with those people," Whitcomb said. "Now with this boot program we're able to hold people to a higher level of accountability."
Seattle began booting cars for the worst offenders in July 2011. Since then, the city has brought in $2.2 million through the program, to help pay for streets and sanitation programs - and more.
As far as going after the worst offenders, Whitcomb said the city hands overdue accounts to collections agencies, so you won't see officers necessarily pounding on the door of the worst scofflaws.
"There's not that many people out there like that," Whitcomb added, "but if you're listening, Mr. or Mrs. 'I-owe-a-lot-of-money-on-my-parking-tickets,' I would encourage you to call the city and get set up on a payment program because that's the right thing to do."
The top five scofflaws:
- 641 tickets totaling $78,340.88
- 201 tickets totaling $24,096.69
- 193 tickets totaling $23,509.74
- 177 tickets totaling $21,331.92
- 191 tickets totaling $19,086.89