Thieves steal 500 N.J. parking meters

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hundreds of old parking meters are missing from a storage facility in Toms River, New Jersey.

Police say thieves likely sold the metal the meters were made of for cash.

Tired of pumping quarters into parking meters? Wouldn't you love to get rid of them?

Maybe that was the motivation behind the theft of 500 coin-operated parking meters from the Toms River Parking Authority; a haul valued at $75,000.

"I'd like to find out who did it because first of all it is criminal activity to start with, which I don't appreciate," said Mayor Tom Kelaher. "It's our stuff, and they took it and I'd like to get it back and prosecute them."

The meters were in a locked storage trailer in a yard next to the Toms River Bus Station on Highland Parkway. Worth $150 each, they were older meters used for parts.

Police think the thieves broke the lock and cleaned the trailer out sometime in the last three months.

Whoever stole the meters must have gotten a real workout or had plenty of help. The meters are made out of cast iron and weigh 50 pounds each.

"This took a lot of effort and a lot of time, and someone who has a need. There had to be a desire and a market for these and that market we can only anticipate would be a scrapper," said Chief Mike Mastronardy or the Toms River Police.

Trenton scrap dealer John Scarpati says selling 500 parking meters, roughly 25,000 pounds of cast iron, would earn the thieves about $3,700. But it would also raise a red flag to any scrap dealer about the possibility they were stolen.

"There's a difference between a piece of pipe and a parking meter," said scrap dealer John Scarpati. "Parking meters come from a municipality. They just don't give them to anybody."

"Of all the things to steal, why would you steal that? I guess they can scrap it. That's what people do, people are desperate," said Kim Pizzarelli.

Police are contacting scrap dealers and checking on EBAY, but because the thieves didn't steal any working meters, you still have to pay to park in downtown Tom's River.

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theft, toms river, new jersey, crime, nora muchanic
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