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Published: Thursday, 7/20/2006

City parking meter vandal puts blame on drug habit

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Motorists feed parking meters to avoid a ticket.

Patrick Smith told police he uses them to feed a drug habit.

The 23-year-old Toledoan was arrested yesterday - the second time in less than two weeks - for breaking into meters downtown.

"He just got out of jail July 7 for the exact same thing," Toledo police Sgt. Richard Murphy said.

Police sent to a call of a man breaking into three meters in the area of Erie Street and Jefferson Avenue about 6:50 a.m. saw Mr. Smith - who matched the suspect's description - walking along the side of a building near Monroe and Ontario streets.

As they approached, police said, he dropped a crow bar on the ground.

Police arrested him, and he was identified as the man who committed the crime. Mr. Smith told the sergeant he was breaking into the meters because he needed money for his drug habit.

Sergeant Murphy said the officers who arrested Mr. Smith have caught at least a half-dozen people breaking into meters this summer.

"This costs ParkSmart money and ties up police officers for two hours, keeping them off the street, with an arrest," the sergeant said.

Some meters can have a couple of hundred dollars in them and cost $450 each to replace, Sergeant Murphy said.

Clayton Johnston, president of ParkSmart, did not return calls yesterday seeking comment.

Mr. Smith, of 105 17th St., was being held without bond in the Lucas County jail on vandalism and possessing criminal tools, both felonies, pending arraignment today in Toledo Municipal Court.

He was charged July 7 with four misdemeanors - tampering with coin machines, possessing criminal tools, criminal damage, and possession of drug paraphernalia - for a similar crime.

Mr. Smith was caught breaking into several meters in the 200 block of North Huron Street. He was arrested with a rod he used to pry open the meters and a crack pipe in his pocket, according to court records.

The records also indicate he has three unrelated drug paraphernalia cases pending in municipal court.



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