ALAMEDA, Calif. - Did you get a parking ticket in Alameda? You better a take a closer look.
The "$100 fine" in bold letters seems legit enough.
But in really, really small print - at the very bottom - there's this message:
“This ticket was issued by a concerned citizen, and is not an actual fine. This ticket is for entertainment purposes only.”
Police say they don't find this very entertaining.
“Whoever did it, obviously did it as a prank, but to me it's not a prank,” said Alameda police Lt. Hosh Durani. “It also puts the police department in a very bad position, where we're getting bad press for something that we have not done.”
Durani said it was last month when a man found a ticket on his Acura near his house. It wasn't until recently that he went to the police station, hoping to pay his fine.
“He could not figure out where to send it to. His intent was to come in here to pay his fine so it wouldn't go to collections,” Durani said.
Police quickly realized that the ticket was fake and from a novelty company. On social media, the department posted pictures of the fake ticket and what a real one looks like.
The fake one was slim on details, other than a handwritten, “Please don't park in the no-parking area."
Real tickets are issued by police or parking enforcement officers with much more information.
“When we write a citation, it will show the violation, the fine, the issuing officer, the date and time with the serial number of the officer and how to contest it,” Durani said.
Police said there may be other fake tickets out there, either shoved into the glove box to be dealt with later, or maybe immediately recognized as phony.
People who live and work in Alameda said they were upset by the phony tickets.
“That's not funny, there's no entertainment value out of scaring someone that they're gonna owe money to the city, so I would be absolutely furious about that,” Gena Batres of Alameda said after parking her minivan on Park Street.
Kelli Black, manager of Tomatina said, “Whoever's doing it, please stop! It's not cool, because we already have to worry about our cars being safe, and for someone just to go out and have the time to do that is ridiculous.”
This isn't the first time this has happened in Alameda. In 2000, someone apparently stole real tickets from a meter reader’s Cushman cart and went on a citation spree.