EXCLUSIVE: Criminal comes clean about ripping off drivers

January 9, 2013 8:54:50 PM PST
A man who admits he's made a career out of ripping off San Francisco drivers spoke candidly about how he's done it. He told his story exclusively to ABC7 News in a jailhouse interview.

The crime -- taking money while posing as a parking lot attendant -- may be a misdemeanor by itself, but parking lot operators see it as a serious crime and many of the victims are tourists.

"Sometimes I walk in there, within five minutes, I'll make $100, $200," George Anderson said.

Anderson is one of the busiest criminals in San Francisco. His specialty -- conning drivers out of their money. He goes to unattended parking lots that have pay stations along the Embarcadero. Anderson poses as an attendant and collects money from drivers as they pull in.

The 50-year-old career criminal says most drivers don't read signs warning drivers about the lack of attendants.

"If you don't know the machine is the way to pay, then I'm going to take your money, but if you know the machine is how you pay, then I'm not going to stop you from paying the machine," Anderson said.

Vic Lee: "Then you feel good about it? Justified about it?
George Anderson: "Not always but these are tourists, but at the same time, it's an easy way to make money.
Vic Lee: "So how much do you make?"
George Anderson: "That's a secret. I can't tell you how much I make, Vic, it's a lot. Put it this way, I make enough to make it through the day and then some and have a good meal and I have my rent paid.
Vic Lee: "Is it lucrative?
George Anderson: "I can make up to $1,000 a week.

Anderson says he's been arrested some 30 times. This particular con job is considered a misdemeanor petty theft, so he spends little time in jail. After each arrest, Anderson knows he'll be out soon.

"What district attorney is going to charge me and take me to trial for 25-30 bucks, even $100," Anderson said.

Anderson was last arrested Saturday at a parking lot. He was in court Wednesday, where he was also charged with violating probation. For that offense, the judge ordered no bail.

Anderson justifies his crimes, saying it's really the parking lot operators fault.

"I've always told the guys from the parking lot, if you guys want to stop that from happening, just keep an attendant on duty," he said.

That's the one thing Anderson and District Attorney George Gascon agree on. Gascon says parking operators need to share the responsibility.

"You put attendants, you put a gate and cameras, you come up with other mitigating conditions; simply posting signs is not enough," Gascon said.

Anderson says sometimes he feels sorry for his victims and returns their money.

"If I'm giving you your money back, the person right behind me is going to be the next victim; there's always going to be somebody that's vulnerable," he said.

Anderson says he's' had trouble with substance abuse and he's been in and out jobs and that he really wants legitimate work. He has a long rap sheet, about 50 criminal charges.

Gascon says Anderson will face some serious jail time because of his parole violation coupled with his priors.

Parking lot operators say more security won't do the job and that the real problem is ineffective prosecution.

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