Getting slapped with a parking fine is something virtually every driver encounters at some point. In some areas, that may come in the form of a boot or clamp attached to the wheel, completely immobilizing the car until said fine is paid. That brings us to Boot Baby and Boot Sheisty – two women currently causing a stir in Atlanta by unlocking boots using keys that are perfectly legal. Of course, it's not quite as simple as that.
They are the Boot Girls, and their story begins in April. According to NPR, Sheisty had her car booted by a private parking enforcement company while visiting Baby at an apartment complex. Instead of paying the company to remove the boot, she dialed up a friend who had a key. Ultimately, the ladies decided to buy a set of boot keys and now, they have something of a Robin Hood thing happening, though they do charge $50 to unlock a boot. Apparently, fees charged by enforcement companies are $75 or more.
By now, you're likely wondering whether this is legal. A social media post from the City of Atlanta Police Department states owning keys to unlock parking boots is, in fact, perfectly legal. The gray area involves using the key, which Atlanta PD says could result in charges of Criminal Trespass, Theft of Service, Theft by Taking, or Damage to Property.
It's important to note that this applies to private businesses using independent parking enforcement companies to monitor private property for vehicles violating rules established by the business. It's a civil affair that, according to the Atlanta PD's statement, they don't get involved in unless "a criminal matter arises." An attorney speaking to NPR disagrees with the police assessment, saying at most the boot removal could be an instance of trespass.
None of this has stopped the Boot Girls from offering their services. They are reportedly fielding around 40 calls per day to remove boots, and the attention they're receiving is raising awareness regarding the practice of private companies booting cars. It's actually prohibited in the state of Georgia, though local municipalities apparently have the ability to authorize it and Atlanta is one of those locations. New legislation proposed by state senators could see booting banned without exception starting next year, if it passes into law.