KNBC continues its probe into the unregulated world of valets!
Police are cracking down on valets in Los Angeles.
During a recent sting operation in Hollywood, NBCLA cameras followed along as authorities verified that valet companies were operating legally.
At La Poubelle restaurant, officers caught a valet driver making an illegal U-turn in the middle of the street.
"They know they are not supposed to do that," said an angry Jacqueline Koster, who owns the restaurant.
"Here in Hollywood, we have cases where valets are using customers cars, picking up girls and prostitutes," said Sgt. Scott Murray.
NBCLA has been investigating valets in Los Angeles for the past two years.
We have repeatedly caught valets parking customers' cars on the street instead of using secure parking lots. We have caught and confronted valets who monopolize city streets by setting up fake valet zones and blocking off blocks of public spots. We have caught them jamming meters. Maybe worst of all, our undercover cameras caught valet attendants getting in accidents and getting parking tickets on customers' cars without even notifying the owners.
Most unsuspecting drivers just hand their keys over to valets without even asking any questions.
"Right now there is no protection for the consumers," said City Council President Eric Garcetti. "Until we have an ordinance that actually regulates this. We do not have a lot of laws, that is the problem."
There are at least 50 valet operations in Hollywood. The cops say some of the people parking your car don't even have driver's licenses.
At celebrity hangout Beso restaurant and Kiss Nightclub, owned by actress Eva Longoria Parker, officers found an unlicensed valet.
"I can't have him parking for you," the officer told the valet driver.
The cops say his Colorado license was not valid.
"We could find 10 drivers with no licenses, no insurance, no permit, etc., tell them to shut down for the night. They could be up and running again the next day with no consequences," said Murray.
Despite a citation and a warning, officers found Perez parking cars later that night.
Beso restaurant and the valet company had no comment for this report. We tried to get a comment from Eva Longoria Parker's publicist, but were unsuccessful.
"Without regulation from the city, we don't have all the tools we need to protect the public," said Murray.
City Council President Eric Garcetti agrees. He shares Murray's frustration. Garcetti wants to give police officers more tools to help them regulate valet companies in the city of Los Angeles.
Garcetti and the City Council are working on a new law, but the process is slow. So for now, if you valet in LA, you are doing it at your own risk.
Since valet companies are normally separate businesses from the establishments they serve, restaurants usually don't accept liability for anything the valets may do.
Police officers say your best protection is to park your car in a lot or garage.