Crime does not pay forever. But it can pay pretty well for a while, as demonstrated by James Bagarozzo, a Buffalo parking meter repairman who rigged more than seventy parking meters to give him their delicious quarters. His total haul? More than $200,000 over eight years.
Essentially, Bagarozzo rigged the meters so that the coins would go to a different compartment than the “official” one, which he didn’t have access to. Then he just took the coins, stuffed them in his pants, and jingled his way to the bank. And why didn’t the bank notice? They were too busy helping him:
“The bank never suspected,” [Special Agent Rob] Gross said, “because Bagarozzo told the tellers he had a friend with a vending machine business. He developed such a good relationship with the bank tellers,” Gross explained, “that they eventually gave him boxes to use that held exactly $500 worth of quarters. He went to the bank several times a week with a $500 box of quarters and got cash in return.”
Nobody ever found this weird, apparently, that this guy had access to a seemingly bottomless pile of quarters. So we guess they make ‘em pretty naive in Buffalo.
Bagarozzo was ultimately caught by a new parking commissioner, who had apparently heard of the time “audit”, and spotted a pretty severe discrepancy between the new digital meters and the old mechanical meters. After they caught him stealing quarters on video, Bagarozzo confessed and was packed off to jail.
Still, for a while that was a fairly impressive scam. And if nothing else, the people of Buffalo finally have what we always wanted: An excuse to claim parking really is a rip-off.