How to protect your property when using a valet service

Put valuables in trunk or take them with you

An ABC 33/40 News viewer contacted our i-Team after she says a valet company left her door unlocked and her laptop was stolen. We looked into your rights to recover damages when something like this happens.

Catenya McHenry says it was early December on a busy afternoon when she left her vehicle to be valet parked. The car was out of sight behind the restaurant. Security cameras didn't catch the thief. She says the valet admitted the car wasn't locked and apologized.

McHenry says the valet company, Safeguard Parking, offered $1,300 to replace the laptop, but a new one cost her $2,500. She lost pictures and work she hadn't backed up yet causing her major hassles.

Safeguard is independent company from the restaurant. The owner tells us their offer is fair and he thought the issue was resolved. He says drivers should check any valuables with the valet.

Birmingham Attorney Cedrick Coleman who is not connected to this case offered his take:

  • A company is negligent for leaving doors unlocked.
  • It may be difficult to prove an item was actually in the vehicle.
  • You need a good photo or receipt for a claim.
  • Adding on the value of intangibles like pictures or work product is difficult.
  • Coleman believes the offer in this case was low.

Best advice: take valuables with you or lock them in the trunk. The City Action Partnership estimates 90% of crime downtown is theft. Too often, we make it too easy for thieves to take our stuff. CAP's Douglas Stewart says most of the crime happens in broad daylight around 2pm when folks seem to let their guard down.

According to the City Action Partnership, downtown Birmingham is overall one of the safest places in the city. CAP offers safety advice and information on crime.

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