Athletes vs. meters in mediation

By Kimberly Miller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The popular term for the crime is "meter beating," striking a parking meter to receive free time.

And for some reason which the University of Arizona transportation and athletic departments would like to find out the perpetrators have recently been UA athletes.

Since the beginning of the semester, two football players and one basketball player have been arrested for theft under $250 after they were seen beating meters.

"I don't know why we've had all these athletes doing this lately," said Marlis Davis, parking and transportation director. "In all fairness, I think someone there just tells their friends that you can beat on a meter and get free time."

To find out exactly how to handle this problem, Kathleen LaRose, senior associate director of the athletic department, has asked to speak with Davis and they will formally meet Wednesday to discuss it.

La Rose said her department is concerned because athletes are being arrested and she wants to find out what can be done to stop this crime from occurring.

"I want to hear from them (the parking and transportation department) what we can do to remedy the situation," LaRose said. "All I'm concerned about right now is our student athletes. We'll do everything in our power to stop this but we don't know what is in our power until we talk to Marlis."

LaRose said the athletic department will not interfere in any punishments the athletes may receive if found guilty of the crimes.

"Those students are going to have to go through the same process any other student would go through if they were convicted of the same crime," LaRose said.

Theft of services is a class-one misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail or $2,500 worth of fines.

Davis said she thinks part of the problem is students don't take the crime seriously. Not only does a "meter beater" get arrested but damage done to the meters can also be expensive to repair.

"I don't know if they think about what they're doing when they beat a meter," Davis said. "We're losing revenue that could go to better lighting around campus or to improving the parking lots."

Davis said one meter costs $350 to replace and that damage done to one by beating or trying to force objects other than coins in it can easily break the meter beyond repair. She said the department is trying to purchase more expensive meters not as easily damaged by beating.

Although recently it seems there has been an increase in meter beating, Davis believes it happens more often than she knows about.

"We don't have anyone standing out there to catch people," Davis said. "So if one of our employees does see someone hit a meter it's just that they happen to be there at that time. There's a lot that goes on that we're not aware of."

But Davis said she thinks the meeting with the athletic department will help curb the increase in meter-related crimes.

"I'm just hoping a combination of words from our coaches and the athletic department will help stop some of the beating," Davis said.

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