Student says thief conned valet into giving away his truck

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 10, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Updated Friday, May 10 at 11:00 PM

HOUSTON - A University of Houston student celebrating his upcoming graduation closed down a Midtown bar at 2 a.m. Friday, and went to get his truck from the valet.

As Gabe Salazar approached the valet stand, he thought a vehicle he saw driving off looked just like his truck. Apparently, it was.

Graduation Day is one of the best days in a young man’s life. For Salazar it began when he became the victim of a common crime, but pulled off in a most uncommon way.

“I can’t wrap my head around it,” Salazar, 24, said.

Salazar went to pick up his 2011 black GMC Sierra at the ALPS, or A Luxury Paring System, valet stand to find his truck gone.

“They gave it to some other guy who described my truck and took it without a ticket,” Salazar, a construction management major, said. Salazar said that the valet told him, “The guy didn’t look like a thief, so we gave him your truck.”

Friday evening, Jordan Taylor was valet parking her car at the same place.

“That’s just irresponsible,” Taylor said.

Nick Barrerra just turned over his vehicle to ALPS.

“You’re kidding me. Wow. Then I think I gotta get my keys now,” he said.

Fellow valet customer Roman Gabriel was not surprised. He said something similar happened to him when he valet parked his truck. The attendant gave his vehicle to the wrong person, but only for 15 minutes.

“The other guy was stoned, smoking weed, came back. ‘You all took my truck and (expletive) did a joy ride,’” Gabriel said.

ALPS Parking tells KHOU 11 News that if a customer doesn’t have a ticket, he or she must produce a driver’s license and insurance. The attendant thought the thief was getting into the truck to get his paperwork, but he just drove off instead.

Parking on the street in Midtown is scarce. That could mean a long walk, which may be riskier than losing a car.

“By myself as a young woman I don’t feel safe doing that, so I usually valet,” Taylor, 25, said.

For Salazar it was about protecting the truck he had gotten just six months ago.

“I valet for a reason, so none of these things happen,” Salazar said.

If he sees his truck on the street, Salazar says, “I’ll probably chase it. I’ll probably chase it.”

There were a couple of pieces of bad luck. Salazar’s key was the only one left at that valet stand.

The crook without the ticket described the vehicle correctly, so the valet pulled it out of the lot and let him in to get his ID. That’s when the thief took off with the truck.

ALPS insurance company is working with Salazar to take care of things.

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