Valet gives car to wrong person, vehicle still missing

WGN Investigates
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CHICAGO — There are plenty of stories about items that can go missing when you park your car with a valet. But what happens when the entire car is gone?

It happened to Michael and Tiffany Johnson in Chicago during All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

They were celebrating Michael Johnson’s birthday and planned a weekend downtown with tickets to the game.

They parked in the Gold Coast to grab a drink, and when they returned to retrieve their car a few hours later, the valet told them it was gone.

“He’s like, ‘I gave the car to the wrong person,’” Michael Johnson said.

He said the valet told him he gave the 2018 Honda Accord to someone else, who didn’t even have a ticket.

“I’m like ‘No problem. We can find out who you gave it to. Let’s roll the cameras,’” he said. “He said, ‘There’s no cameras.’”

There were no cameras and no trace of the car in the weeks since.

“We’re not talking about a pair of sunglasses,” Tiffany Johnson said.  “We’re talking about a whole vehicle came up missing of this parking garage.  And everyone is acting oblivious or just too nonchalant about the situation.”

The Johnsons filed a police report about what they view as an “auto theft.”

Chicago police said they have looked into it but have run out of investigative leads.

WGN Investigates contacted the manager of the parking garage but the call was not returned.

The owner of the garage where the Johnson’s car was parked it Laz Parking. It is a billion-dollar company that oversees Chicago’s privatized parking meters.

A company spokesperson said in a statement:

  “The safety and security of our customers and employees is our utmost priority.  We are working with the local authorities to assist in the investigation and conducting our own internal review of the incident.”

Michael Johnson said Laz Parking has been unresponsive.

“They haven’t got back with us,” he said. “They told us to take it up with their claim department. We reached out to them. They got the paperwork from them. The manager and the general manager told us to reach back out to them at any given time.  We reached back out and their phones went right to voicemail.”

The valet called police six hours after the incident.  Police reports said he admitted he mistakenly gave the Johnson’s car to the wrong person.

The valet then claimed the Johnsons and their group roughed him up.

Tiffany Johnson admits tempers flared. The couple said they just want their car back or to be compensated.

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