To the Editor:

My wife has taken the Jitney into the city on average once every week or two since we moved to Riverhead 20 years ago. She has often parked at either the Staples parking lot or Roanoke Plaza near the stop.

That is why we were so shocked when my son and I went to pick her car up about 3 1/2 hours after she parked it in Roanoke Plaza and found no car. Our immediate response was to call her and make sure she had parked it where she usually parks, in the mostly empty part of the lot over close to the stop. She had indeed parked there. Our next response was that the car had been stolen. It was after a while of wonder that we saw a small and unclear sign stating the towing policy. The parking being for customers only with no overnight parking and no parking in the fire zone. We wouldn’t have necessarily seen a problem even if we had seen the sign. So, we call the number on the sign and find to our complete dismay that the car has been towed to a lot about 3⁄4 of a mile away and that we have to bring $600 cash to retrieve it.

The company that owns and manages the shopping center is Brixmor Property Group, a country-wide company that likes to project a community based image. I called the local manager to complain. He would hear nothing of it, saying it’s legal and posted even though it is not in understandable copy. Since then I have done a little more research finding that the shopping center right across the street does not have the same policy. Other shopping centers in our town have no such super-aggressive towing policies. I was told by someone at the Riverhead Police Department that the enforcement just began about two years ago, but I guess Brixmor didn’t find it necessary to put a sign up that said no parking for the Jitney or something to simply clearly warn the people of Riverhead. No, they decided that they would basically car-jack folks and charge them $500-600. One of the shopping center tenants said he was towed and charged $500 for parking behind his own store. Another told of a man who had had a cardiac event, had been taken to the hospital in an ambulance, and came back to find that his car had been towed.

Do we allow this overly aggressive, repugnant, and really immoral practice of this company or can we do something about it? How hard would it have been to warn people who park there for the Jitney for a short time before you decided to tow them for it? We would love to hear if anyone has had similar experiences or has suggestions for action that will remedy this situation. And, we wanted to warn others that Brixmor’s interest in the community ends at the parking lot.

Adam Straus

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