SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - The Department of Motor Vehicles set out on Wednesday in search of people misusing disabled placards for preferred parking. It's a common crime generating more attention recently.
This, after someone snapped a cell picture to illustrate just how bad things have gotten.
A Salinas police officer parked in a disabled parking space for a short time, while he or she ran into a restaurant.
On the heels of recent criticism, the DMV launched a crackdown on this type of crime in downtown San Jose. 10 officers with the DMV were on the lookout for disabled placard violators.
A City Hall employee running late for work, used her husband's placard so she wouldn't have to feed the meter. She was caught.
"She admitted that her husband wasn't with her and that she was using the placard to park for work," said Wendy Espinoza of the DMV. "Absolutely, we see this a lot."
Espinoza said the problem is more acute in metro areas where parking can be challenging.
The agents worked a four block radius around San Jose City Hall.
They confronted and caught multiple drivers who displayed a placard or had disabled plated, but not the supporting paperwork or the placard's owner wasn't with them.
One driver, parked near San Fernando Street and South 4th Street, was swarmed by a crush of television and still cameras. She told reporters she forgot the placard was still visible when she parked.
"I dropped my mom off late at night," said the unidentified driver. "And then I came home again and [didn't] have the chance to come back to get it out."
Espinoza added the offender admitted, "She was not transporting her mother and so, the car has been there for quite some time."
Officers issued a citation for the misdemeanor crime, which ranges between $250 to $1,000
Over the past three years, DMV officers say they've conducted more than 250 of these sting operations around the state. A traffic court judge adjucates the case in addition to a potential fine. San Jose officials say there's also a loss of revenue that meters like this would have collected if the parking was legitimate.
"It's to provide funding for enhanced cross walks, increased pedestrian way finding and signage and upgrades to vehicle charging stations and things like that," said Heather Hoshii, who heads the city's downtown parking and operations division.
Some of those who were approached during the seven-hour sting did have the proper proof and were grateful officers were out protecting their legitimate needs.
"I think it's important that people aren't taken advantage of the benefits that are given to us," said Paula Love, as she arrived for work at City Hall.
Officers say they welcome anonymous tips from the public to help them crack down on a crime few think much about until they're caught.