Open in App
News 5 Cleveland WEWS

Cleveland woman shares valet service stolen car nightmare

By Joe Pagonakis,


Pamela Bell of Cleveland had to deal with unexpected trauma after her 2012 Honda Accord was stolen from the valet stand at the University Hospitals' main campus as she watched in disbelief.

Bell told News 5 she was visiting a loved one at the hospital on April 17 when University Circle Police reported an unidentified man jumped into Bell's car and drove away. Police said Bell's vehicle was left running, with the keys inside the car and the driver's side door open by a LAZ Parking valet attendant when the incident occurred.

Bell said the LAZ Parking employee left her car unattended as he was going to get her from the University Hospitals' main lobby.

"I was standing in the window, and I'm like, 'That guy is just driving away with my car,'" Bell said. “Cause I’m thinking he’s about ready to hand me my keys, but he doesn’t have the key, and I see my car pull off." Mark Durdak
Pamela Bell holds up the replacement keys she had to have made after her car was stolen on April 17.

Cleveland Police reported Bell's car was found four days later beached under a railroad bridge on Quincy Avenue, with $1,800 in damage and hundreds of personal items stolen from the vehicle. Bell said her garage door opener, license plates, and apartment keys were also missing.

Bell told News 5 that because of the mistake made by the valet, LAZ Parking quickly picked up the cost of a rental car and paid for the initial repairs. But Bell said when the car returned from the repair shop, it still had a host of driving issues and additional repair expenses that LAZ Parking refused to address. Bell said the company also refused to reimburse her for the cost of a tow, new license plates and garage door opener, and the cost of changing all the locks at her apartment.

“Imagine being on the freeway doing 60, 65 mph, and you have to slow down, and the car shakes violently," Bell said. “Trying to communicate with them has just been awful; she hasn’t even wanted to reimburse me for my expenses of getting a tow, none of that stuff; she just cut off communication.”

National Law Enforcement and Security Expert Tim Dimoff told News 5 that vehicle owners need to ask questions, especially if they plan to use a valet service regularly. Dimoff said it's essential motorists understand all terms, conditions and responsibilities before consistently allowing a valet service to park their vehicle.

“Read the back of the ticket they give you because it’s going to list a bunch of guidelines and disclaimers that they’re not responsible for," Dimoff said. “Where is the car parked at, how secure is it, is it within your facility, or is it in another facility parking lot or parking deck that you do not control or own?”

Dimmoff also said vehicle owners should also take steps to limit personal belongings in a vehicle they plan to valet regularly.

“Don’t have any valuables in the vehicle; leave them at home, at your office and minimize your losses, your thefts," Dimoff said. “You do not give them all your keys on your key chain; you should only give them the key that works the car or the electronic fob.” Mark Durdak
National law enforcement and security expert Tim Dimoff is urging motorists who often use valet services to ask questions.

News 5 contacted LAZ Parking headquarters for this story, and company spokesperson Mary Coursey responded immediately with the following statement:

"Our number one priority at LAZ Parking is to provide a safe parking experience for our customers and clients.  Expenses associated with the damage incurred as a result of the theft have been paid in full by LAZ. Ms. Bell selected a repair shop for the repairs to be performed for damage related to the theft, and the repair shop, upon its assessment, informed LAZ that the vehicle had pre-existing damage that was not caused by this incident. LAZ is not responsible for pre-existing damage. LAZ has requested a list of other expenses and receipts associated with the incident and, to date, has not received all information needed."

News 5 also reached out to University Hospitals about its security protocol at all main campus valet zones, and it issued the following statement:

"Safety of our patients and visitors is a top priority for us at University Hospitals. We have trained police and security cameras to provide a safe environment. When incidents like this occur, we review policies and procedures with our vendors to prevent them from occurring again."

Bell told News 5 she will submit additional expense receipts and a second repair estimate for her vehicle to LAZ Parking, hoping the company will make good on all the losses she's had to deal with.

“You should take everything that is important to you out of your car," Bell said. “And I said, 'Why do I have to go through all of this when it’s not my fault my car got stolen.'”

News 5 will follow through on this developing story.

Watch live and local news any time:

News 5 at 11

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here , and your Android device here.

You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment

Comments / 0