Despite Parking Pay-Box Thefts, Credit Card Info Safe: Company

Twenty 200-pay boxes go missing

By Jennifer Schwarz
|  Tuesday, Oct 12, 2010  |  Updated 2:50 PM CDT
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Thieves may have gotten off with nearly two dozen parking meter boxes, but not motorists' credit card information, Chicago's parking meter contractor said Tuesday.

Roughly 20 of the 200-pound boxes have been ripped from the city streets since Sept. 17, police said.  While it's unclear how much cash was in them when they were uprooted, Chicago Parking Meters LLC wants motorists to know that the boxes don't retain credit card information.

“Credit card information is transmitted directly to the financial institution," said company spokeswoman Avis LaVelle in a written statement.  "CPM does not retain or store the data, except for the last four digits of your credit card, which is very similar to any other credit card transaction."

"Retaining the last four digits of the credit card enables CPM to provide better customer service in case there is a problem with the pay box and a refund is necessary," she said, adding that there's no way someone can compromise a person's credit card with just the last four digits.

Detectives are working with private parking meter operator, LAZ Parking, to address the issue of the stolen boxes. They've asked anyone with information to call police immediately if you see anyone vandalize or otherwise tamper with the machines.

Four of the stolen boxes have already been recovered, police said.

While credit card information is secure, CPM finds the theft of the boxes less than amusing.

"Theft or destruction of meters or pay boxes is a serious offense and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," LaVelle told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The pay boxes replaced the city’s 36,000 individual parking meters last year after the city struck $1.15 billion deal to lease parking to a private company.

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