This is an archived article that was published on in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The tactics used by private towing companies contracting with businesses to enforce parking rules may be legal, but that doesn't mean they are right and shouldn't be addressed by the Legislature.

Case in point:

MariJo Sutherland went with her boyfriend, Ryon Croston, and her two sons to the Real Salt Lake game Saturday and had a great time — until they returned to her truck.

It was gone.

She had paid the $5 parking fee, taken by two attendants who looked to be in their early teens, to park in the old Lowe's parking lot near Rio Tinto Stadium. They handed her a receipt, but did not tell her it needed to be placed on the dashboard. Sutherland thought you couldn't get into the lot without paying because of the attendants, and put the receipt in her purse.

Slickrock Towing hauled away her truck, but there was no indication of who removed her vehicle or where it was taken.

She got a telephone number on the signs she saw in the parking lot, but got no answer. She looked up Slickrock's email on her cellphone and got the tow lot's address, which was more than two miles away.

Sutherland and Croston and her two boys, 10 and 8, began walking to the lot, but tired after about 20 minutes. So they went into an all-night restaurant on State Street. They told a young couple there about their plight, and the man drove her to where the lot was supposed to be.

It wasn't there.

He took her back to the restaurant, where she called the nonemergency lines for several police agencies. No answer.

Out of desperation, she called 911. The dispatcher was able to confirm her truck had been towed and gave her the website's same nonexistent address.

Finally, Croston's mother drove from Layton to pick them up. They got home about 2 a.m.

Sutherland's wallet and many of her personal belongings, including the suit her son was going to wear for his church baptism Sunday morning, were in the truck.

Despite the signs saying it was a 24-hour service, she couldn't reach anyone at Slickrock until Monday. After showing her receipt to the manager, he let her take the truck without paying the fee, which was $214 a night.

But it was a grueling experience.

Das Boot • I've written about the perils of parking in the strip mall at 400 South and 700 East.

There seems to be hidden parking enforcers at the ready at all times to pounce on a car, whose owner they believe has violated a parking policy, and apply a disabling boot, only to release the vehicle at a $75 pop.

The "violations" can be innocuous, doled out simply because the enforcer deems the car was parked in the area reserved for one business that the motorist didn't patronize.

But looks can be deceiving.

I wrote about a man who parked there to get a Jamba Juice and noticed a friend going into Jimmy John's, so he walked over to greet him. He then decided to get a sandwich at Jimmy John's to go with his Jamba Juice.

Voila! The boot.

Another man went to Jamba Juice to switch cars with his son, who works there. He also was tasked with picking up eight Jimmy John's sandwiches for a business meeting.

Voila! The boot.

Now comes the experience of Miranda Thompkins. She was driving a company vehicle two weeks ago, when she and a co-worker stopped at the strip mall to grab lunch. Her colleague wanted a sandwich from Jimmy John's; Thompkins wanted only a smoothie from Jamba Juice.

She parked in the Jimmy John's area, since they were patronizing the place, and stepped over the chain to go to Jamba Juice. When she returned, an employee from Parking Solutions had booted her car and said it would be towed unless she came up with $75.

I would think the enforcer would at least cut the fine in half since one of two got a meal at the designated place.