Local

Parking service near SEA Airport gives away couple’s car keys to stranger

A couple in Port Orchard is dealing with the fallout after a parking service near SEA Airport gave their car away to a stranger, who then stole it.

The Johnsons finally got their car back on Tuesday after officers found it abandoned in South Seattle.

Now KIRO 7 is getting some answers from MasterPark on what went wrong. The company’s president says it is taking responsibility for the situation and is working to make things right for the Johnsons.

KIRO 7′s Deedee Sun met up with Greg Johnson as he was picking up his car from a tow yard Tuesday morning.

The string of problems started when they left their car with MasterPark valet before a vacation earlier this month. When they came back on Friday, Feb. 23 and went to get their car keys and car – clearly there was a problem.

“They kept going through paperwork and looking in the key rack and not finding our key. Brought more people in and started talking quietly between them and finally admitted that somebody took the car,” Johnson said.

Photos from surveillance cameras show the suspect who got an employee to release the key and ended up getting away with Johnson’s 2007 Mercedes SUV.

“Almost looks like he’s a security worker,” Johnson said.

MasterPark’s CEO, Jed Goniu, said over the phone that the man was slick. He even called in a couple of hours ahead of time, providing the license plate number and saying he would be the one picking up the car instead.

Goinu said a newer employee handled the situation and appears to have not followed proper procedure.

Usually, only someone pre-coordinated can pick up a car in lieu of the registered car owner. And when a car owner picks up the car, they’re supposed to show ID that matches the registration, along with the ticket stub.

MasterPark said the suspect pretended to have lost the stub and presented a situation that confused the employee.

“That should never happen again,” Johnson said.

To make matters worse the Johnsons returned the next day to SeaTac to file a police report, when more went wrong. They say they were rear-ended.

“He was a single person in the HOV lane, came out of nowhere and I got creamed,” Johnson said. “We spun around, hit the curb, wiped out the side wheel,” he said. They’re okay but the crash totaled their other car.

Then on Tuesday, Johnson returned to Seattle with a friend. Police had recovered his stolen car in South Seattle near Martin Luther King Junior Way S and S Bradford St.

Other complications meant it took hours to recover his car from the tow lot. When Johnson finally got it back, the SUV was filled with stuff.

“People were obviously living in it,” Johnson said.

KIRO 7 cameras captured packages of buns, multiple pairs of brand-name shoes, whole milk, pizza, a lot of clothing, and even a plastic gun painted silver – to name a few.

There was also a bag of mail.

“Yeah, that should probably go to the police,” Johnson said.

There was also a sleeping bag and stuff that appeared to belong to a child.

“Kind of sad, actually,” Johnson said.

The Johnsons say they’re still shaken up over the whole ordeal and worry that the criminals now know where they live.

MasterPark’s president acknowledged they messed up and said over the phone, “We made a mistake, and we are certainly taking responsibility for this situation… Mr. Johnson will be made whole.”

Parking services near the airport offer many options, including ones where you do not leave your keys with a valet service. You can also get a ride or use a rideshare to get to the airport.

MasterPark said it is reviewing its policies.