Bremerton Police warn public of bogus parking tickets that look real

BREMERTON, Wash. -- They may look convincing, but Bremerton Police say some of the parking tickets showing up on car windshields are bogus and misleading. The unusual notices are made to look official and even include police department logos as a letterhead. Police Chief Steve Strachan says at least two people have reported the problem.

"And they would show us this letter and it was sort of amateurishly made but it had our letterhead on it, and it looks like it's a screen shot from the Internet," Strachan said.

The letter is rife with spelling and grammatical errors, but the message that money is owed is clear. Police say the warnings showed up at a city-owned parking garage near the ferry terminal, but neither officers nor the vendor who operates the lot have anything to do with hit. The chief says the use of his department's official logos has him deeply concerned.

"Sometimes you hear about people impersonating officers themselves to commit a crime and this is basically a version of that," the chief said.

Investigators say the motive for placing the fake tickets on parked cars is unclear. While it demands that fees be paid, the chief says the people who got these tickets had covered the cost of parking for the day. There's also no instructions for people to send money, other than to the owner of the lot. Still, the chief considers this a version of fraud and says the confusion it might create in Bremerton threatens the integrity of his department.

"They are representing themselves as a government agency," he said. "That is a crime and that is the difference here."

Police say legitimate parking lot operators use collection agencies for past due bills or simply have the vehicle towed.