DiFranco Fans Duped By Parking Bandits

Some Ani DiFranco concert-goers in Hartford Monday night had an expensive lesson in city parking.  They were duped before the show even started.

Some of the concert-goers didn't realize the people "they paid" for concert parking in a lot down the street from the Webster Theater "took their money and ran".  The drivers went to their parking spaces after the concert and didn't find their cars where they left them - but were surprised by what they did find.

"A bunch of people standing in the rain, wondering what happened to their cars," said Laura Shaw of Springfield, Massachusetts.  She was one of those who couldn't find her car and thought it had been stolen.

"Then two tow trucks came up to grab the last few," she added in recalling the series of events.  The tow trucks had been busily towing many of the cars during the concert.

The lot was down the street from the Webster Theater.  It is owned by the Adolf's Meat and Sausage Kitchen. 

"Tell me who towed; who's towing?" peppered Joe Gorski, owner of the meat shop.  He said he was afraid his own car may have been towed.

Gorski admitted he did once tell the operators of the Cross Country Auto towing company to go ahead and tow cars from his parking lot.  He said he didn't ask them to specifically tow on Monday night.

Gorski said he was told by the Hartford police that two men were charging an overflow crowd to park in the meat shop's parking lot. 

Gorski said he'd like to 'smoke' those two fake parking lot attendants, "the cops told me they (the fake attendants) charged for the car - like $5 - and after they park, they run away."

According to those who attended, the Webster lot was full for the DeFranco show.

"The guy in front of the lot said: your first right, go down there to the meat market. You can park there. It's $5.  And then there was a guy taking money at the lot," said Colin Chapman of New Britain who was taken in by the scam.  "We actually even tipped him," he added.

Nothing at Adolf's lot says you will be towed.  There is a "no parking" sign with a police caution notice.

"At the same time, I wasn't looking for a no parking sign. They (the attendants) looked somewhat legit," said Chapman.

The Webster Theater has a deal with the church down the street.  People can park at Saint Augustine's church when the Webster lot is full.  Monday night the church had a function.  Still, the Webster said there are other places to park without fear of towing.

"It could be difficult, and yes, you may have to go somewhere else," said Justine Robertson of the Webster Theater.

"There are a lot of safe places to park if you follow the instructions we give you, and that's south of the theater," Robertson said.

Robertson stressed that the police department has been helpful.  She said they have worked on catching parking scammers in the past. 

Police could not stop Cross Country Auto from towing the cars away and charging the concert-goers $120 cash to get their cars back.

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