September 22, 2020

BY ROB MENDONSA

Conestoga College Security Services has a message for students using counterfeit parking permits. Get rid of them now or risk being criminally charged with forgery by Waterloo Regional Police.

In a collaboration with local police labelled “Operation Pez,” Security Services has nabbed 34 forged permits, including 17 annual, 10 daily, five semi-annual and two weekly.

Barb Eichholz, security and parking supervisor, is amazed by the level of quality and likeness that these new forgeries possess. But security officers are trained to spot these fakes so even the smallest disparity in size will catch a trained guard’s eye.

“We think students are buying them, so we are looking to have criminal charges laid in this,” said Eichholz. “In what we have been able to catch so far, we have lost almost $9,000.”

This has been an ongoing problem dating back to last year, but due to the large numbers that have been found on campus so far this year, this won’t be dealt with in-house any longer. Students would normally be brought before Mike Dinning, vice-president of student affairs, and the student code of conduct would be used to determine their punishment.

“If students are caught with one of these permits we first try an informal resolve which may be anything from banning them from parking on the lots anymore, to more serious academic penalties,” said Dinning. “What we are trying to do is find out why the student is in possession of the counterfeit permit and how they came to get them. If we find that the permit is being sold by another student then forgery or fraud charges will be pursued.”

If charges are sought, students will face a charge of forgery, which is an indictable offence. Those found guilty could be imprisoned for a term not exceeding 10 years. Students could also be found guilty of committing a summary offence, the least serious kind of criminal offence under Canada’s Criminal Code. The maximum penalty is usually a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

“If we locate a forged permit, students are issued a parking infraction as well as a notice to appear and that suspends all parking privileges until the matter is dealt with,” Eichholz said. “We also then have a number of students who don’t come in and deal with the issue, thinking they can hide from us, so we find their vehicle on campus again and we have it towed. We’re not playing nice anymore.”

Students need to ask themselves if saving a few hundred dollars in parking fees is worth losing their year in school or even worse, having a criminal record and going to jail for?