"For only $5 per day you get a fully secured parking lot that's open 24 hours a day" reads the ad for the new North Annex Parking Lot at John Wayne Airport. It certainly looked secure when I parked there Wednesday morning (Feb. 3)--the lot was surrounded by a chain link fence topped with barbed wire and the only entrance and exit was on one side. A half dozen cars were clustered near the lot's exit when I arrived. Since I was returning late Friday night, Feb. 5, I parked among the other cars under a street lamp and within 100 feet of the attendant's booth.
When I returned on Friday nothing looked amiss until I opened my door and illuminated the large hole in my dashboard where my radio/tape player had been. Both doors were locked, but it was easy to see how the thief got in. He/she popped open the wind-wing of my old '66 Chevy and simply opened the door. I walked over to the attendant's booth and told him what happened. He was quick to inform me that it was not the airport's responsibility. Not only that, but he had no way of contacting the sheriff. I would have to flag down one of the shuttle buses and ask the driver to radio for help.
The shuttle bus driver contacted the sheriff and the parking lot supervisor. Within 20 minutes, a considerate and sympathetic officer, Michael Moody, checked out my car and took a report. During the 40 minutes this took, numerous shuttle buses came but I never saw the parking lot supervisor. Not one person employed by the airport parking service even apologized. After all, I had parked there!
After paying my $15 (no discounts even if you lose valuables!) and driving home, I started to think about the situation. Here was a lone person with a cash register full of money in a wood and plexiglass booth on a desolate stretch of road (Sky Park Circle) with no way to contact the sheriff. I find that hard to believe.
What if I had been attacked in the lot or three big guys walked up to the attendant and demanded money? Sadder but wiser and certainly poorer, I will avoid the airport parking lots in the future even if they are "fully secured." I hope this letter will prevent the loss of others' valuables.
LAURA A. HUGHES