Monday, June 17, 2024

Parking officers go extra mile to solve ‘abandoned’ car mystery

An “abandoned” ute on the side of the road recently raised alarm bells with Canterbury Bankstown Council Parking Officers and triggered a hunt for the mystery owner.

Parking Compliance Officers, Michelle and Cheryl, found the white ute parked in a ‘no stopping’ zone on Rickard Road and say they had a “gut feeling” that something wasn’t quite right.

Concerned for the owner’s wellbeing, the officers coordinated an investigation to locate the person and return the vehicle.

It was a team effort and, after a week, officers managed to track down 81-year-old Manuel Chavez from Punchbowl.

The mystery was solved – it was simply a case of Mr Chavez suffering a nasty fall and forgetting where he had parked his car.

Fatima Chavez said her husband suffers from dementia and it was a routine trip for coffee and cake when confusion struck.

“I was praying that he would remember where he left the car,” Mrs Chavez said.

“My son and I were looking everywhere. We were looking for three days, we were panicking!

“I had given up; it was a very hard time for us.”

Mrs Chavez said she was over the moon when Council staff called her to say the car had been found and even offered to drive it back for us.

Michelle and Cheryl returned the vehicle to the Punchbowl couple’s home and said they felt overjoyed to have lent a helping hand.

“It felt like Christmas! I was so happy that we had done something to help this beautiful man,” Michelle said.

“This is what our job is all about!”

Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor, Bilal El-Hayek commended the Parking Officers for their efforts to reunite the Chavez family with their vehicle.

“I met with the family, and they were extremely grateful for the hard work of our team,” Mayor El-Hayek said.

“This is just one example of our Council staff going above and beyond to ensure the best outcome for community members.”

“Our parking officers have a tough job, but they’re out here with the community’s best interests at heart.”

Residents who suspect a car has been abandoned are encouraged to report it to Council online at

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