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Georg Stutzenberger peered from his truck window into the Sam's Club parking lot, eyes scanning rows of handicap parking spots.
"I think I got one this time," he says, glimpsing a white pickup truck. He parks his truck, equipped with small flashing yellow-and-white lights, and pulls out a ticket book.
The 51-year-old Stutzenberger wrote about 350 tickets last year, or 27 percent of the total 1,288 handicap-parking tickets written in 2008 in Salt Lake City, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The fine for each ticket is $150, meaning Stutzenberger brought in about $50,000 last year. But he isn't paid a dime. He's a volunteer with Salt Lake City police's Mobile Neighborhood Watch.
Detective Rick Wall said volunteers like Stutzenberger help police and parking officers who often don't have time to patrol the handicap spaces.
"Unfortunately, in the police business we have to respond to calls for service as needed. We have to triage," Wall said.
After serving with the program for a year, volunteers are eligible for training to write tickets. Stutzenberger writes tickets in his spare time, often while running errands to stores like Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and Costco. It doesn't take long. On a recent day, he found four violators in about 40 minutes.
He's not a ticket hound with a handicap-parking vendetta, but seems to have boundless energy that does not lend itself to halfway measures.
"It's just my nature. When I take something on, I really want to get results," he says. And later: "Yes, I write a lot, but that just shows how big the problem is."
An Austrian immigrant with a thin build, round eyeglasses, and a friendly demeanor, Stutzenberger served in the military police as a young man in his home country (military service is mandatory in Austria). He now circles his neighborhood on volunteer patrol at hours most people would rather be asleep, such as 10:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends.
On patrol, "you find out more about your neighborhood, what's really going on," he said.
An aircraft engineer by training, he moved to Utah more than 20 years ago to service French helicopters in Provo. He now lives in a house overlooking the city in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and owns a tile and stonework business.
Stutzenberger joined mobile watch four years ago after his truck was broken into three times . He's one of nearly 115 volunteers with the group and last year wrote about 80 percent of all volunteer-written tickets.
Michael Simms, 55, of Salt Lake City , who is disabled by obesity, said he's glad that someone is enforcing handicap-space rules. "They shouldn't be where other people need to be," he said. "It's hard for me to walk."
But Stutzenberger doesn't want to "play cop" or confront anyone. When he finds a violator, he takes pictures of the car and writes a ticket, but instead of leaving it on the window, he drops off the digital photo and ticket at the police department and officers mail out a ticket. He keeps his stops quick and doesn't write tickets if someone is sitting in a car.
His reasons for hitting the streets with a ticket book are both simpler and broader than ticket totals.
"The ultimate goal is that people who live in a neighborhood say it's really great, it's safe, people are nice, you can walk your dog, chit-chat with your neighbor about some stories," he said. "I just like to see people like that."