Students Use Low Tech Hacks On High Tech Parking Enforcer

If you are a college student and you get too many parking fines, you are going to get in trouble. But one school didn’t count on students hacking their high tech parking violation deterrent. Some even got free internet from the devices.

You pay your taxes or — in the case of students — your tuition. But still, the city or university wants you to pay to park your car. In the old days, you’d get your car towed. But the people running the parking lot don’t really like having to share the fees they charge you with a tow truck driver. Many places clamp a device to your tire that makes it impossible to drive. Oklahoma University decided that was too much trouble, also, so they turned to Barnacle. Barnacle is a cheaper alternative to the old parking clamp. In sticks to your windshield so you can’t see to drive. The suction cups have an air pump to keep them secure and a GPS squeals if you move the car with it on there anyway.

From an engineering point of view, this makes sense. You don’t need a fleet of tow trucks and a storage lot. You don’t need to jack up cars and have a boot that can withstand quite a bit of force. In fact, you can release the device with a payment via cell phone and then drop the unit off at a drop box. More fees for the parking operation and less for pesky tow truck drivers and traffic enforcement.

Instead of paying $185, though, some students have posted on Reddit other solutions. Running your defrosters for awhile will loosen the suction cups enough to get a shim under them and break their seal. Other students suggested blocking the GPS signal and cell signal to the Barnacle. It was suggested to create a mock Barnacle you can leave on your parked car to dissuade the man from putting a real one on.

According to reports, at least one student realized the device has an unlimited SIM card on it and used it to tether his phone to the internet until they got wise. Unsurprisingly, the university has decided to hold off implementing the Barnacle and returned the five units it borrowed from the manufacturer. We have to wonder if other universities will follow.

Parking meter hacking is nothing new. On the other hand, we’ve seen bad parkers be subject to phishing, too.

143 thoughts on “Students Use Low Tech Hacks On High Tech Parking Enforcer

  1. A strip of metal crate strapping with one end sharpened and bent into a shallow V, and some tape wrapped around the other end for a handle, would make fast work of removing this. Slide the thing under the edge, locate the suction cups, then STAB to cut the edge of the suction cups. It’ll let go and won’t be usable until the suction cups are replaced.

    1. It would require you to have a strip of metal crate strapping and to sharpen it, it requires tools and ability to use them. There is faster way which requires only things you probably already have with you if you drive a car.

      > As it turns out, to take off the Barnacle, all you need to do is run your vehicle’s windshield defroster for 15 minutes, and then use a credit card or similar thin piece of plastic to release the suction cup around the edge. Presto! You’re free from fees.

          1. That depends. Normally the fines for damaging foreign property are higher than for just removing the device. I could imagine damaging “law enforcement” devices count even extra severe.

      1. I’ve wondered if putting a thin strip or two of thick-ish (just not scotch tape thin) clear tape across your window would allow air to slowly leak into the suction cups. Failing that, peeling up the tape to the edge of the suction cup might lift the edge just enough to release it.

    2. Bad idea.

      Getting busted for trying to dodge the fine is one thing. Maybe the potential gain is worth the risk, maybe it isn’t. You have to evaluate that on your own.

      Getting busted for destroying property is going to be a whole lot worse and if you do get away with it you don’t really gain anything over simply removing the device and setting it aside without wrecking it.

          1. @Homer Simpson – So, do you have a receipt that says parking lot is part of what you bought? If I buy something for you can I claim a spot in your driveway? Can I claim rights to use anything else that you own?

            Why not?

            Does it make any difference if the price you charged me was inflated? We agreed on it before any money changed hands didn’t we?

          2. @Be Smarter

            That’s a bit of a stretch. If you parked in a restaurant parking lot, paid for a nice dinner, and found that while you ate, they booted you, claiming that parking wasn’t included in the cost of the meal, would you be as supportive of this line of reasoning? Where on your meal receipt does it state that parking is included? It’s natural to assume a college campus parking lot is part of the college.

            I only got one ticket in college, but it was BS. Some idiot down one row parked half way over a line, forcing everyone else down the line to shift into the adjacent spot. I ended up on the end, with one side of my car about a foot into the no-parking lines at the end of the row. Despite clearly being in a valid spot, they ticketed me for parking in the no parking area.

          3. @Be Smarter “So, do you have a receipt that says parking lot is part of what you bought?”
            Yes, when I was in college I had my paid for parking permit affixed to my window in clear view in the designated spot for it, and that didn’t stop the bastards from towing my car three times over four years.

            These are the type of wretched greedy human beings you are defending. Free parking is not the primary reason they are hated by so many.

    3. Yeah.

      One issue though… They know it was stuck to YOUR car. And if it’s damaged, they will send the bill for replacing those suction cups to you. Probably adding another fine for damaging their property.

      1. luckily for us, there’s this thing called “burden of proof”
        Unless they have good evidence that it was specifically him who damaged it, all they have is -1 barnacle…

        There’s always the possibility of said barnacle finding itself a couple of hundred miles from the origin point, and with 0 evidence against anyone, guess who’ll have to pay to go and get it back. Students come and go from all directions, so the Barnacle fleet can end up scattered quite far and wide…just saying.

    4. Have Safelite come out and replace your cracked windshield that has the Barnicle attached.

      Insurance covers the windshield and you can return the Barnicle without destroying it or paying the fee.

      (I have already done this and left a municipality with their Barnicle and a worthless piece of glass to pay the disposal fees for.)

    5. Or you could get a cordless drill, a completely normal thing to have in your car, and a drillbit. Carefully tape off the depth of the barnacle and drill down near the center of each suction cup. there will be a fair bit of space in the center between the glass and the suction cup, if you’re very careful about it, you can drill holes in the rubber.

  2. As a student I remember keeping old parking tickets, when parking somewhere just get the old ticket from the glove compartment and put it under the wiper. Most traffic officials will just move on, assuming you already have a ticket. The paper does yellow surprisingly quickly though, perhaps a design feature. Designing anything to be student proof is a mighty challenge.

    1. Years back, I was living in an apartment and taking public transportation to work, so my car would sit all week in a public parking lot. One weekend, I went to drive somewhere, found all four tires flat (the rims leaked around the bead), and six tickets under the wipers for an expired inspection. The police came back every night and issued a new ticket, despite it being obvious the car hadn’t been driven during that time. I went to court and argued that I should only be given a single ticket, but the judge just said tough luck. So an existing ticket isn’t a guarantee that you won’t be issued subsequent ones.

      I ended up paying about $260 some odd dollars in fines with a bag of pennies and nickles. Went in to the town clerk and said I wanted to pay my tickets and plopped the bag on the counter. The clerk just stared at me with a dirty look and I said “are you going to count it?”. She just said no, and handed me a receipt.

    2. The other thing slightly more nefarious/asshole-y is to try and park near a car that has a parking ticket it on it already. Take the ticket from that car and put it under your windshield wiper. Even if a traffic cop looks at the date, there are less chances that he’s going to also cross reference and make sure the license plate matches.

      When you get back, toss the ticket in the trash. The reason why this can be more asshole-y is b/c the other person (that got the ticket) won’t know about it, and schools are notorious for preventing class registration for following semesters, or getting transcripts issues if there are outstanding parking tickets.

  3. Doubt it would matter where this was in-use tested, but at a university guaranteed the QUICKEST defeat possible. So many fully active minds in training to become the greatest thinkers of our day. Clearly administration was not thinking.

    Snatching the unlimited SIM is really the icing on the cake!

    1. On my list of things I don’t want on me…

      …stolen equipment that identifies itself on a network which I do not own and might very well be triangulating my position any time I switch it on.

      OTOH… using it to activate a device which has no identifying numbers to connect back to me and which creates a WiFi hotspot that I can afford to abandon in a convenient location where both my self but also many other equally probable suspects can benefit…

      Yah, that I would do.

    2. I remember a story of some vending machines, which were deliberately set out in a technical highschool (for students aged from 15 to 19). It was said, that anything that survived that environment for some time, survives application at public places for years :-)

          1. Well.. I was not aware that was a thing until now. Still, it seems to have only reached a very small part of the world so far. Also, I have to assume that a part of any such system to function has to be very tough consequences to anyone who fakes a number in order to deter abuse. Otherwise there might as well not be plates at all.

            So my point remains, the seriousness of the crime is escalating quickly.

            I’d have to be pretty hungry before I chose jail time, license suspension or whatever they do to you for this over paying a lousy parking ticket.

      1. I have a classic truck, a 1964 Chevy C10. In my state, NC, you can run a year of manufacture plate on classics. The actual displayed plate on my truck is in no way even registered to me or the vehicle, I bought it on eBay. By law, I have to keep an actual registered license plate in my glove compartment, but not displayed. 1964 plates run $15-35 on eBay. So, it is not only possibly to do this, but also easy in some states. A classic here is defined as 25+ years old.

    1. Other than Twitter, how would they know it was actually you? “I loan out my car to practically everyone; don’t remember who that day.”. Or maybe, “I didn’t see a barnacle. Someone must have stolen it for the free internet. You guys shouldn’t leave those things lying about!”. It’s private property so no parking tickets. And the parking is just a bonus fee for a university charging students far too much in tuition so not like they want to risk losing that.

      Side note, parking fees are handy to judge a prospective University. Not so much the quality of the classes, but the nickel and dime attitude.
      When I was looking at schools I went to one where they were charging $8 for the first hour and it was close to 1/2 mile away from the closest building. Knowing the attitude was such that this was my first experience with the school really soured the experience and I didn’t even finish the tour because I didn’t want to pay for a third hour! Ended up going to a school that was surrounded by huge free parking lots (not the only reason I picked that school obviously but a nice bonus).

      1. The only place you can make those arguments is in court in front of a judge, not the enforcement officer.
        Your best hope is the court doesn’t want to deal with it and throws the case out … otherwise, brace yourself for a fun day.

      2. The “didn’t know who drove it” dodge really won’t work when it comes to parking violations, and these days with cell phones it won’t even work for moving violations because all they have to do is pull your cell phone logs and they know you’re the one who was driving.

        In most places parking-related violations are the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle, just like license tags and everything else. You pull this type of thing and make a boot or a barnacle disappear and all they do is keep racking up fines for you. And they will collect…either with ALPR or when you go to renew your registration. The Kingdom is serious about collecting their money.

        1. “all they have to do is pull your cell phone logs”
          I highly doubt that they would be able to acquire the logs, after all, that often requires a court order and generally speaking a judge isn’t going to do this for sucn low-level stuff (it’s a waste of the court’s time).

        2. If it’s not absolutely terrible advice that would get you jailed, it’s court advice from someone who’s clearly never been to court. Cell phone records require a subpoena.. and likely a warrant.. if you think a civil traffic court judge can or would issue subpoenas to a cellphone carrier in response to a parking ticket.. lmao.

          Just delet every comment on this article. What an absolute dumpsterfire.

          1. It depends where you are. Some places, yes, they will pull cellphone logs to show who was driving. Especially for speeding, which can escalate to dangerous driving.
            Don’t forget some councils in the U.K. used anti-terror surveillance laws to check if kids were really living in school catchment areas, and they weren’t just borrowing a relative’s address.

      3. The “it’s private property so no parking tickets” argument is unlikely to work because, in many (most?) places, campus police officers are deputized law enforcement officers. When I attended college in Michigan years ago, the campus cops were considered adjuncts to the Michigan State Police. In the college town I lived in until last year, the campus police department was a regular police force with coequal powers as (and mutual aid agreements with) the police force of the city in which the campus was located.

        1. Greece has the right idea here. Police are not allowed on university premises unless invited. This leads to car insurance not being valid on campus and when a prang occurs you can often see the occupants pushing the cars off campus. A lot of strange things happen like car chases always end up at the universities because the authorities are not all wed to follow.

      4. Your jurisdiction may vary, but usually the car owner is responsible for identifying the driver at the time, or if they fail to do so, is responsible themselves for any parking fines and speeding tickets unless it’s been TWOC (taken without owner’s consent), in which case you need to file a theft report with the police. Declaring it TWOC to avoid a £60 fine means you’re now committing perjury or something similar, which is much more serious and carries at least the risk of jail.
        Claiming someone stole the barnacle for the free wifi is however much more believable.

    2. That would require them thinking in the first place, besides, what’s the deal with this? Universities cost a fortune already, and they want people to pay for parking as well? How stingy are these universities that they cannot let people just park freely anymore?

      Anyway, this is like all those bright ideas about externalizing costs and thinking some wannabe device would solve a problem you wouldn’t have if you actually thought the whole thing thru and realized that it is not worth the hassle:

        1. Unless I’m mistaken, most universities (at least here in the US) are either public (state) or not for profit organizations, so there is no profit and they don’t earn money anyway. OU is a state school, so think of it not as maximizing profit but as minimizing cost so they can keep things like parking passes as inexpensive as possible.

          Plus, consider construction costs of university parking. Most large universities use at least some parking garages due to property constraints, which according to and other sites average $15,000 – $20,000 USD per parking spot. I thought parking fees were high when I was in school (current campus resident parking passes run $360/year!), but when you consider the construction cost of the garage, it might take 50 years’ worth of fees to cover the cost of the garage. I assume the life of a garage is probably more like 25 years, so even with high parking fees, the university probably covers a large portion of the cost.

          FYI my university offers free campus parking for students, if you’re willing to ride the free shuttle. So if you don’t feel like paying for parking, there is an option there for you–it’s just less convenient. Not sure if that’s common.

          Point is, I’m grateful for the expensive, wonderful education I received at my university. It has been worth every penny–parking fees included.

          1. One university around where I live has an arrangement with a grocery store. You can park all day at the back of the store’s lot and ride the shuttle bus in. The University and the students (& faculty & staff) get free parking, and at the end of the day… beer sales! Copious, voluminous beer sales. And junk food.

            A rather famous private university claims they get 9% of their revenue from the combination of food service, parking, and the bookstore. I’m guessing food is the lion’s share, so we’re looking at maybe 1-2% of the bill being parking. That’s lost in the noise.

          2. @eriklscott

            Yeah sounds like somebody had a great idea.

            Also remember revenue is simply the amount of money taken in–before expenses. So that claim doesn’t mean the university “makes money” on parking.

            Income = revenue – expenses.

            I think it’s reasonable to expect that AT BEST a university parking department is a break-even operation.

      1. The university’s job is to provide education, not free parking. If I thought my tuition was contributing to a place for ruch people to put their cars, I would feel pretty ripped off.

    3. “Wouldn’t they log which car it was stuck to”

      Yah. that’s what I came to say. And I don’t buy that you can get away with the “wasn’t me” argument either. That MIGHT have worked 20 years ago. Today those parking lots have cameras everywhere!* They will just come back with a video of you getting out of the car followed by one of you returning, removing the device and walking away.

      Also, did you damage it? Did you properly return it? They could be showing that video in court when they prosecute you for theft or property damage too!

      Not to mention the fact that this is your college. Do you really want to mess with the people who can expel you?!?

      * – I feel sorry for today’s college kids, I’d have never made it with the shit I pulled!

  4. Yes, instill a sense of entitlement. ” I don’t need to follow rules, I’ll park anywhere I want ! ” How dare they try to enforce rules I agreed to ! the horror ! ….. smh

    1. While I understand where you’re coming from, schools using overbearing and pernicious parking rules in order to shave extra revenue off of students is worse than the students retaliating by circumventing those rules. These aren’t rich, connected Wall Street bankers, they’re students. They are a population that, kinda by definition, is among those least able to bear those fines and the most likely to be targeted by them.

      This is not entitlement, this is a coping strategy for a situation that has been designed by some analyst to extract money, fairly or otherwise, from people who are unlikely to have the money, knowledge, or connections to do anything to stop it. Given the nature of the way that so many people have responded to these devices, my strong suspicion is that parking enforcement has gone from a question of maintaining fairness and availability in parking areas, to being one of “how to make as much extra money from parking violations with the least amount of effort.” Law/rules enforcement should not be a profit-making venture. Once you let those things become about making money, rather than making things fair, it becomes far too easy to justify policy that loses track of the reason *why* we make rules, and invites abuse (almost always of people who are least able to tolerate it) for profit.

      1. They’re students. Do they really need cars? At my uni, undergrads aren’t allowed cars without special permission (e.g. if you need to travel to sports meetings, or due to disability).

        1. I went to school in LA (freshman) then a a small school in a small town in New Mexico – the nearest “town” (with one blinking light) was 11 miles away. Albuquerque was 75 miles away. No “public transport” – i had a bike as well as a car. Yes – one needs a car if not in a large city with good public transport.

          1. TL;DR: sometimes you need to visit and sometimes the school depends on commuters

            I went to a university that could not expand (surrounded by wealthy homes) and was constantly at odds with the local government. (parking was $50 per semester in late 1980’s dollars) In order to expand revenue they could only afford to encourage commuting students. 30 years later the university hit the jackpot. They acquired an adjacent estate that significantly increased the size of the campus. (Did I mention how wealthy some of the surrounding homes are?) Well a few dozen tremendous dormitories later they have become the biggest parking Nazi state.

            I currently sit on the board of the local chapter of an engineering society and have vetoed every suggestion of having an event at this university because we have all the board members have received bogus parking citations from this university’s parking thugs. I got one during a visit where I had instructions from one of the deans, told to park in spaces in XYZ area, and confirmed with the dean’s assistant I was in the right spot, I still got a citation—and these guys are affiliated with the local police. I ended up having to pay the citation because the university couldn’t get it sorted out.

      2. I’m going to disagree with the statement that the situation has been “designed by some analyst to extract money.”

        As I’ve commented elsewhere on this post, the cost of a parking garage averages around $15,000 – $20,000 USD per parking spot. At the current cost of parking passes at my university ($360/year), the garage would take around 50 years’ worth of parking passes’ fees per spot, just to break even with construction cost.

        My point is, parking is expensive, and so is enforcement. Seems a far cry from a viable revenue stream, and I think parking probably produces net losses for most universities. Consider that if it was a viable revenue stream, someone else would offer competitive parking close by (which I’m sure happens some places but doesn’t seem common).

    2. Well if you are paying to go to the school I would think that you should be entitled to parking. How much are you spending. Heck even a pay $10 for a parking sticker would seem like a good compromise.

    3. At least around here, universities will intentionally over-sell the number of parking passes relative to the number of spots. They assume that there are going to be students who drop out before the end of the semester, so even if you pay for a parking pass, there’s no guarantee that you will actually get one. That is a jerk move, and in a case like that, I’d be completely fine with someone sticking it to them.

    4. You shouldn’t follow unjust rules. I think it’s debatable if private parking violation is just or not. I think not because it’s treated as a revenue stream rather than as a way to keep things orderly and safe.

      I used to pay $2.75 a day for parking tokens to use the multilevel garage at my college because the city had all the meters in the neighborhood set to a 2 hour max and gave out hundreds of tickets each week.

      Some one’s full time job was to drive a tiny car around the city blocks surrounding the campus and write tickets. It was proof that we had a parking problem downtown, and implied that rather than fixing it the city managers used it as a funding source.

      1. To your point, this is actually more common than you think. Governments tell you that they want to protect you and everyone else. So look at drunk driving in the US. When I was a kid, it was big laugh to get caught drunk driving. Maybe sleep the night in jail and then you went home. Now, though, it is draconian (and rightfully so). Because people did decide they needed protection from that and demanded it. But look at say, speeding or running a red light/stop sign. We could stop that almost 100%. If you had, say, fixed speed posts and red light/stop sign cameras and if you violated the law you got a $10,000 fine the first time and the next time they took your license for a year and the 3rd time you lost your license forever, you would not speed or run red lights and stop signs.

        The governments do not want that because many municipalities and states would go broke without that revenue. So they have a vested interest in making sure that you think you can get away with it most of the time and making the fine at that balance point where it is worth their time but not so bad that you will avoid the behavior. There have been cases where red light cameras were used and then taken down for various supposed reasons, but the loss of revenue is the real reason. Same for how the turnpikes used to clock your speed from start to finish and just charge you a fine at the end if you were early. People used to park waiting for the time to elapse before exiting in that case.

        1. Yup, speeding cameras in the U.K. are routinely placed at points people are likely to speed, rather than places it’s dangerous for them to do so.
          The top spot is just after a turning – the car in front turns off, and you speed up to close the gap and catch up with the car ahead of him.

    5. This is a blog about hacking. There’s always an element in this community who use their skills to outsmart and exploit technological barriers for personal gain and to stick it to the man.

  5. Fun to read about people MacGyvering their way out of the Barnacle, and the SIM thing is just hilarious. But parking enforcement MUST be recording the plates on the cars they’ve placed the Barnacle on.
    These students will be in for a bit of a shock when they find their car registration has been nailed with leans or unpaid fines.

      1. ASS U ME is the correct way to express that word.
        Most, if not all college grounds are actually incorporated cites, ergo, they will have police with full police powers. Try not to eff with them,
        As a side note, if you are in college, and no not know they have a police force, you may be in the wrong place.

          1. Huh. I’ve never heard of this before. Maybe it’s different in different parts of the world.

            My college was not it’s own city but it’s police were an offshoot of the county sheriff’s office and every bit as much real police as any you might find outside of school. Assuming they did not have authority was a great way to become an example.

          2. Here’s a short list of some California police departments that exclusively serve a particular school.
            Some of these are public schools, rather than post-secondary institutions.

            Another, perhaps less common system is the University of California Police department. Which is a large law enforcement agency in the state.

            As for actually incorporating as a city, I can’t think of any examples and I had trouble searching online for any. I think there are a lot of colleges that operate with some city-like privileged granted by their surrounding local government. But that’s not really what you’re asking is it?

          3. University of Alabama is in the incorporated city of University, Alabama. The campus police are state police, but they wore blazers and were very nice when I was there.

        1. El Camino college is “El Camino Village” located in an “Unincorporated” area of Los Angeles County.
          So I guess technically, it takes a Village..
          But they still have the El Camino Police force.

      2. Wont stop the college in my local town having their rent-a-cops drive around in vehicles labeled “Department of Public Safety” WHEN THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GOVERNMENT!

        1. Does the word ‘department’ include ‘of the government’ in its meaning in American? I went into a ‘Department Store’ the other day and it had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE GOVERNMENT.

          1. Sure, but selling kettles and cosmetics isn’t something you’d expect a government to do. To sponsor a bunch of pricks driving round in cars like they’re Dirty Harry is exactly the sort of thing you would.

            You’re not allowed to drive round in a car with P O LICE painted on it, because you run a post office for bodily parasites. Then go round threatening people into doing things, and when they comply, tell the court you end up in that it was their free choice.

            There’s clear laws against impersonating the police in every country I ever heard of.

            People who stomp around like they’re govt employees should not be allowed to dress or present themselves, including their vehicles etc, in such a way that might make people think they _are_ govt employees. It’s deceitful and taking advantage. There’s laws against cons and fraud, too.

          2. @[Greenaum]
            A few years ago (~18), here in Minnesota, a man driving a 1960’s era Ford car all done up like Barney Fife’s patrol car, including the big red bubble light on the top and a vanity license plate that said “BARNEY”.
            Was pulled over and ticketed by the Highway Patrol for “impersonating an officer”
            (just re-iterating your point)

          3. @[Shannon]
            Does a “Ministry of …” in the UK or Canada, have any thing to do with being a minister?
            Is a “Prime Minister” the equivalent of a pope?

        2. I’m not sure where you are located, but most schools are in fact “Part Of” the local government.
          But that’s in California. As I posted above, colleges can be established as a city, or village, or a township.
          Here’s a tip. Check the license plate, and if it says “EXEMPT” on it, it’s a government vehicle. The same applies to buses, tractors and any other equipment the (State, County, City) owns.
          So much anger..

  6. Seems there is a need for a list of number plates for chancellors, and other finance/admin types at the school, sorted by make of car, to make barnacle hacking exploits more effective.

    Perhaps also application of a transparent film where the suction cups attach might ease removal.

    We had it easy, you could reverse through the boom gate after you picked up a steel drain grate and placed it on the sensor loop, negating the need for a swipe card to get out the other end.

  7. It’s nice to be able to easily remove the device, but the down side is that schools can hold your diploma hostage for those sweet $100 parking fines. The college I went to wouldn’t pursue the fines for cars belonging to non-students as it was too much hassle/cost (or perhaps they couldn’t legally win?) but most people just pay up when an official looking ticket shows up threatening to bring the force of the law on you. A few parents of friends would just park wherever and toss the tickets when they came in the mail and suffered no consequences.

      1. So long as you will only ever be self employed sure…

        Not sure how you want to explain that one at a job interview. Well.. probably doesn’t matter. If the job requires a degree you won’t be getting an interview.

      2. Refuse to give you a transcript for those times employers and some others want that. In other words, be a dick, get dick treatment rest of life. Computers have long-memories too.

    1. Supposing that you’re correct, this make these units not useful at all, because even with an unpaid paper parking ticket the university could take hostage your diploma.

      Another simple solution is to gate the parking lot and give a pass card to enter and exit.
      If one parks like a donkey the pass associated with the plate will not work to enter.

  8. This is weird. First off, why would a student have to pay for tuition? That’s what you pay taxes for in the first place: Public services. Education is – in the modern world – a public service. Oh, wait … this is an article about the US, not the modern world. My fault. Apologies. (Yeah, I know, cynism doesn’t work well on the interwebs … honest apologies!)
    Second: As others have mentioned, there’s most likely a two-step thing going on – both registering the plate and blocking the car from being moved. The “argument” of the owner of the car not knowing who drove it doesn’t hold water even when you’re completely drunk: It is your property and therefor your responsibility who commits what with it. If you lend your property to someone who hasn’t been taught manners, you can’t excuse yourself by pretending you didn’t know she would do such kind of thing.
    Third: Come on – you have the money to own and run a car but not the money to pay a parking ticket? You have the money to own and run a cell BUT NOT A PARKING TICKET? You have the money to run your car’s motor for minutes to heat it up enough to illegally remove the blocking shield BUT NOT FOR THE PARKING TICKET? What’s wrong with you? You expect the parking lot to be watched (so-and-so, I don’t judge the quality of that), maintained, sometimes even cleaned out, but you don’t want to pay for the service? Where are YOUR manners?

    I know this comment won’t be popular, but I am really irritated by the attitude of this article’s approach to the situation.

    1. I used to be 100% all for the state paying for college. The more educated our people the better off we all are. And these days we sure do need it!

      But… then I started actually reading my Facebook feed. And who do I see posting in support of free college over and over again? People who I know made really stupid choices. People who ran up huge college debts not just on school but to live off of and to live wastefully, not frugally at all. They took ridiculous “underwater basket weaving” degrees which anyone with half a brain could have told you would not lead to future employment. Now struggling to find and hold jobs and can’t pay their debt.

      Now don’t get me wrong. I think that learning for it’s own sake is a good thing and shouldn’t always have to be about future employment. I’m all for encouraging people to pursue their personal interests. College is expensive though. Regardless who is paying for it they are paying a lot. Therefore it’s an investment that must have a monetary return.

      As a tax payer, if we had “free” college I would be paying for it. I want a return on that money that is tangible. More doctors, teachers and engineers sounds great! I don’t spend my time at work so that you can enjoy your hobby. Besides we have the internet now. All the information that you could ever want is right at your finger tips. You don’t need a professor to spoon feed it to you. Unless that’s the only way you can learn. In that case buy a Udemy class or something!

      So, maybe we could have free college but only for approved degrees? But then that would mean we have the government telling us what we can learn. That doesn’t sound so great either.

      So kids.. chose on your own to stop taking unemployable degrees. If not forever then at least until lack of demand brings the price down. Take something practical instead and maybe you will be able to pay off your own debts! Meanwhile don’t stop learning. All of human knowledge is right there for the taking.

      1. I suspect you’re being very selective in your facebook datasource. I’m in favor of free tuition, and I have degrees in biochemistry and chemistry. My mom’s in favor of free tuition and she has degrees in psychology and education. My dad was in favor of free education and he had a master’s in electrical engineering.
        I know a lot of people who got degrees in what are considered soft fields and then went and got good jobs in totally unconnected fields, because the hiring criteria were “must have a four year degree”. is a worthwhile read. The US Government currently spends more on subsidizing university tuition than it would cost to make going to state schools tuition-free, and the majority of those subsidies go to kids who could have afforded to go to college, not to the kids who are financially challenged.

        1. Well.. sure. I’m selecting only my friends in my Facebook feed. Obviously that is my own anecdotal experience and not a well-formed study of the value to society of the average college degree.

          It did bring to my attention however that some of what we would be paying for if “free” tuition became a thing would be quite sketchy. (not that we don’t pay for a lot of sketchy stuff already)

          Now if we assume that free tuition would be paid for by reducing some of that other sketchy stuff our taxes already go for (cough cough military cough cough) then I’m with you. Except that I don’t believe that will ever happen.

          Instead it will come from a tax increase, mostly paid by the middle and lower class because this is the US and that’s how it works here. Everybody will still pay, they will just do it in their taxes instead of in their bills.

          Also, the price of tuition is vastly inflated. I think we have a shift coming with more people opting for trade schools. This will drop the demand for college resulting in a much needed lowering of it’s price. Forcing us to buy it in our taxes will prevent this.

      2. Free trade schools ought to be the focus. For people who need the hand up, who didn’t grow up with privilege, who is ready to work hard, and who is likely to value the contributions that taxpayers made.

        A lot of people fresh out of high school are ill prepared to succeed in college. We can’t really be all that shocked when they enter, do poorly, and make bad choices on degrees. With useful guidance counselors and college prep we might worry less about tax dollars going to waste in a free college system.

        As for complaints of waste, making bombs and blowing them up in military training is wasteful. How many “useless” philosophy degrees would that have bought. And if we all were philosophers would we still need bombs? ;-)

        1. Hah! A “useless” philosophy degree would be a world of improvement from the degrees the people I have in mind actually have! I’m only not naming the subjects because someone might recognize it and tell them if I did!

          I really don’t get the whole “they are kids and should be expected to make bad choices” argument. I’ll admit, I was privileged to have teachers in High School that talked about career paths with us so maybe I can’t understand. Still though, I remember observing the adults in my life from a very young age long before anyone counseled me. I remember some were much more or less successful than others. I remember doing a great deal of thinking about the choices that led them their and about my own future.

          I can’t comprehend the idea of someone being old enough to graduate high school yet not old enough to have done this. If it’s a thing then I have to think it is more the result of too many kids growing up overly babied than actually not being capable of doing better. Then again, from the stories my daughter brings home from school I can definitely believe that is common.

    2. So I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re not from the US. I only mention this as additional information, and not justification for the students’ actions.

      I live in the US in a state with a very low cost of living. When I went to college 20 years ago, a parking ticket for violating metered parking was 3x the hourly rate for minimum wage at that time. (I think minimum wage was like 5.15 or 5.35, and the parking ticket was $16.) This was also at a state school, and not a private institution (again for background, in the US state schools are considerably cheaper than private institutions, generally speaking.) For a college student (probably on minimum wage), it’s worth it to figure out ways to work around the ticket/these measures.

      Part of the issue in the US is that universities are run like little fiefdoms. It’s not like students get a say in what parking or parking tickets cost (aside from choosing whether or not to attend the school.) This is also why (as someone mentioned above) people that live in the area, but don’t attend the school, ignore the meters/tickets. They know the university can go pound sand since they don’t have the leverage of withholding a degree or registration for the next semester over their head to try and collect.

      1. I’ve spent a lot of time on multiple university campuses across the US, recruiting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single one, anywhere, that had anything like the real estate to provide sufficient parking for all its students and staff. For a mid-sized university that’s 40,000 parking spots. UCLA would need 80,000 parking spots.
        If you can’t supply 100% of the demand, you might as well monetize it. That way you reduce the demand.

  9. We used to just get parking tickets at my uni. We were required to purchase a parking plackard from the school and hang it in the window but the student parking was 1/2 mile away from the campus. All of the parking lots close to school were metered parking. The trick was to provide a fake plate number to the school. They would never check the serial number on your hanging parking card against the plates. It was printed in small text and hard to read anyway. 20 unpaid parking tickets and none of them were ever linked to my account. This was at least 10 years ago though.

    I’m definitely would be someone creating a fake barnacle and abusing it.

  10. So, what happens if you pay the fine,
    the Barnacle detaches, and you “accidentally” run over it?
    Or it gets left out in the street and dozens of cars run over it?

    1. In the scenario from the linked video, I suppse you intially wouldn’t get your $50 deposit back from the $185 the university charged you to remove it when you didn’t insert it into the return slot.
      …and secondly: the barnacle would be linked to your vehicle (notice that the moustashioed dude said as much as he was attaching the barnacle) and so if it was damaged, they would obviously bill you for repair/replacement.

  11. Here in Italy we have almost free education (and healthcare) and also severe parking fines. The car itself Is often towed. Parking Is one of the costs of the car, not of your job or education. If you don’t want to pay a car…

    1. Shhhh here in the US the freedom to park your car anywhere is waaaaay more important than the freedom to get a good education without ending up in debt. You Europeans with your mass transportation and good education are impeding our prejudices.

  12. Did anyone else notice that it would only “cost” $50 to buy a Barnacle? If OU only had 4, 4 people could get together and pay the $185, but keep the barnacle and forfeit the $50 deposit fee.

  13. Colleges and parking are always a bad combination. When I worked for the big university I could park in the free lot that was 1.7 miles away from my office. My house was 1.5 miles away from my office so I did not use the free lot very often. I could buy a hunting permit for the lot behind the building I worked in for $1200 a year. They sell the hunting permits with no regard to the number of spaces in the lots they are good for. I tended to spend nights in the lab and come in late so I would never get a spot. There were two decent things though. One was I could park a 50cc scooter in the bike rack that was even under cover right next to the door to my building with no permits or anything. The other was motorcycle parking was $35 for a lifetime permit and over the years I got really good at putting the sticker on my pants about 20 times until the adhesive on the sticker was enough to keep it on the bike but not enough to keep me from putting it on another bike. They never checked to see if the permit number matched a bike so I used one sticker for over a decade and various bikes.

    You may say no fare, but in my mind it is a grey area. Parking tickets were a major source of revenue for the school. It might take them 2 days to clean up the roads and sidewalks after a snow storm but 30 seconds after a lot went from being free to requiring a permit they were on that.

    One of the most humorous things that ever happened while I was there was there was a disaster that one of our profs was a world renowned expert in and CNN sent a crew out to interview him and the lab I managed and do a story. They pulled up right in front in a rented van and we had a nice visit with them and they got some good footage, and when they went back out the parking Nazis had towed their van. Way to go guys.

  14. Tl;dr get a bike, use it year round like I did. Tuition was $350 per semester or so and I even got off 7:30 class times claiming early “drive” 4 miles in winter’s darkness as a hardship. Climbing the hill to Purdue was hard in that 3 speed, now I can do it 50 years later with aplomb. There was a undeveloped lot 2 blocks from campus that I could take the family car on bad days and park in the mud. Then they built a shopping mall on it a few years later. Now that’s coming down (one story) and a mega block is going up. Dorms had parking but Ball State disallowed first year students use of a car on campus.

  15. Ah, this article takes me back to the halcyon days of my freshman year, when I decided to reallocate the second semester’s parking fee elsewhere, in exchange for the labor of periodically moving my car one step ahead of parking enforcement. This worked a treat until three weeks before end of the term, when I got popped four times in four days, negating my previous savings. This being before ubiquitous security cams, I responded one night with a dollop of ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate in each of the parking cop carts’ key switches, and enjoyed grim satisfaction for the week it took to get them back in service.

  16. I’d hit the thing with a taser and then a diy emp(after disconnecting my battery and letting it drain the caps etc)then I would try to pay the fine and complain if it didn’t work.”idk whats wrong with your crap tech but i’m trying to pay so get this shit off my car.”

      1. People build can crushers and stuff powered by capacitor banks. There’s some really strange pictures online of coins that look more like little barrels, after a trip through the discharge coil. If you knew where the brains of the barnacle were, and knew the right sort of aerial to concoct, you could probably fry it’s brain with an EMP.

        Of course that wouldn’t activate the pump or valve or whatever releases the vacuum, so you’re still stuck with the braindead fucker on your car. Maybe casually EMP it after it’s removed, or else when it’s on somebody else’s car. If you got all 5 of them, you’ve inconvenienced 5 people but taught a lesson to the sort of dicks who invent this technology, that it isn’t profitable to use high-tech extortion where there are geeks!

        You would stand a fair chance of buggering your car’s stereo and ECU though. Powered off or not. Disconnecting the battery would do nothing. Perhaps your car’s metal body would protect the 2 dozen computers under the bonnet but the ones in the passenger cabin, I’d worry about.

        A good compromise might be the method with the heater, from this article. Then take it somewhere out of sight of the cameras, and apply a big fuckoff axe. Parking enforcers are like the Mafia, they’re businessmen. Make it too expensive for their trouble, and they’ll go elsewhere. Perhaps a trip through a log chipper, before you return it to it’s slot.

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