RICHLAND TOWNSHIP, CAMBRIA COUNTY--- In a special report WTAJ News Reporter Danielle Krout tagged along with Richland Township Police catching those who abuse handicapped parking.
Everyday there seems to be a scramble to find parking in some of Richland Townships most popular places. Andy Litvin said finding a place to park near a store can be a challenge some days.
“I was at a store the other day, there were 8 spaces and six out of the eight parked there didn’t have any handicapped placers,’ said Litvin. “It’s very frustrating.”
Nine years ago Ltivin suffered a stroke, paralyzing part of his left side. He said he struggled with the idea of getting a handicapped parking sticker.
“it was embarrassing at first, even though I was partially disabled,” said Litvin. “As time went on I realized I really did need it because it was difficult to walk long distances.”
Litvin said some days it is struggle to find marked parking for those who are disabled.
“It is aggravating when you see someone who needs a spot close up and they can’t get on.”
Richland Township Police said some people are deliberately taking those spots when they are not disabled and they’re breaking the law.
‘People need it, it is there for a reason,” said Officer Steve Beblar.
In one afternoon Beblar hit the congested parking areas in Richland Township like the local Wal-Mart. In less then 30 minutes, he cited four cars. The parking lot does meeting the parking space requirements under the American with Disabilities Act.
WTAJ News Reporter Danielle Krout filmed one woman loading her minivan with groceries, she had a placard, but she was not disabled and no one was with her. When Beblar questioned her she told him it was ‘her mom’s car and she figured she could park there.” She was given a first time warning. A man with no markings left his truck in a handicapped parking spot. He ran back in the store when he saw the cameras. He was given a ticket.
“It’s an expensive fine, it can range anywhere from $50-$200,” said Beblar.
Falsely using disabled placards is on the rise in Richland Township. Police said they average about 400 tickets a year that was double the number given last year. That is why officers are cracking down patrolling the parking lots more frequently. That way those who truly need the spaces like Litvin are given them.
“It is there for a reason, its there to help those who need it,” said Litvin.
The public can help report handicapped parking fraud click on Help for more information.