Claim: A phony carpark attendant collected parking fees outside the Bristol Zoo for over twenty years.
TRUE STORY: Outside Bristol Zoo there is a carpark where cars and coaches can park. There was also a nice bloke with a hat and ticket machine charging cars £1 and coaches £5. This parking attendent worked there for about
Er no say the Council... That car park is your responsibility... Er no say Bristol Zoo the attendant was employed by you wasn't he.... Er NO!!!! Sitting in his villa in Spain is bloke who had been taking the car park takings for Bristol Zoo for the last
[Collected via e-mail, June 2009]
From yesterdays Bristol Evening Post:
Outside Bristol Zoo is the car park, with spaces for
On Monday 1 June, he did not turn up for work. Bristol Zoo management phoned Bristol City Council to ask them to send a replacement parking attendant.
The Council said "That car park is your responsibility." The Zoo said "The attendant was employed by the City Council... wasn't he?" The Council said "What attendant?"
Gone missing from his home is a man who has been taking daily the car park fees amounting to about £400 per day for the last
[Collected via e-mail, August 2012]
From The London Times:
A Well-Planned Retirement
Outside England 's Bristol Zoo there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 buses. For
The fees for cars ($1.40), for buses (about $7).
Then, one day, after 25 solid years of never missing a day of work, he just didn't show up; so the zoo management called the city council and asked it to send them another parking agent.
The council did some research and replied that the parking lot was the zoo's own responsibility. The zoo advised the council that the attendant was a city employee.
The city council responded that the lot attendant had never been on the city payroll.
Meanwhile, sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain or France or Italy is a man who'd apparently had a ticket machine installed completely on his own and then had simply begun to show up every day, commencing to collect and keep the parking fees, estimated at about $560 per day — for
Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over
Origins: Urban legendry comprises many different tales of swindlers who have managed to take in large amounts of money not through violence, intimidation or overt theft, but by impersonating figures authorized to collect funds from the public. By falsely posing as washroom attendants,
The tale of larcenous ingenuity referenced above is a remarkable example of this genre in that it posits a crafty crook didn't simply pull off a phony "parking lot attendant" ruse for a short while and then abscond with a few hundred pounds in ill-gotten gains, but that he kept up the deception for over twenty years and took in hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of pounds before "retiring" to live a life of luxury. According to legend, he was able to achieve such amazing longevity at his unauthorized profession because he plied his trade in a parking lot used by zoo visitors, and both the zoo and the local city council each thought the other was responsible for the operation of (and thus the collection of funds from) the carpark.
The locale now mentioned most frequently in circulating versions of this legend is Bristol Zoo Gardens, a
Members: £1 per car
Corporate, hospitality and business visitors: £2 per car
The story in the widely-circulated email stated that the car park at Bristol Zoo had been manned by a single attendant for 23 years, who had taken advantage of a mix-up between the Bristol Zoo and the city council over who was responsible for the operation to collect drivers' money for himself before retiring on the proceeds.
Bristol Zoo insisted there had never been any confusion over parking attendants and made it clear it had several attendants and more than one car park.
Similarly, in May 2008 a maintenance worker with the Birmingham [Alabama] Parking Authority collected fees from motorists attending a nearby charity event then directed them to leave their cars on a private lot. Many of those vehicles were subsequently towed and their drivers charged $200 to retrieve their cars.
Last updated: 19 January 2015
Gray, Jeremy. "Birmingham Parking Authority Maintenance Employee Fired After Being Accused of Orchestrating Parking Scam." The Birmingham News. 8 May 2008. Associated Press. "Man Commandeers NYC Garage, Collects Parking Fees." 21 December 2009. Bristol Evening Post. "Urban Myth of the Bristol Zoo Parking Attendant." 13 June 2009. This Is Bristol. "Bristol Zoo Parking Scam Urban Myth Is a Work of Fiction." 23 September 2010.