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CBS2 Investigates: Woman Says She Got The Boot 4 Times By Mistake

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A case of mistaken car identity has led to intense frustration for a New York City woman whose car keeps getting the boot.

As CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported, when Brigitta Wareham walks to her car, "I have knots in my stomach every time."

She said she is sick over the thought of having her car booted again.

"I'm mad. I'm worse than frustrated," she said.

New York City boots cars when owners owe $350 or more in unpaid parking tickets. But Wareham owes nothing.

Yet in less than two years, the Sheriff's Office has booted her car four times by mistake, Jiang reported.

"I want that clear – by mistake. I didn't have any tickets, and don't have any tickets, and they did it by mistake," Wareham said.

The city's Department of Finance oversees parking violations. A spokesperson said Wareham is the victim of "human error."

At the center of the confusion is Wareham's vanity plate "1HONEY." Someone else has the exact same plate, Jiang reported.

"I picked it out myself, not knowing," Wareham said.

It's rare, but possible, for two plates to have identical numbers -- only if the types of vehicles are different, like a car and a truck.

CBS2 tracked down 61-year-old Judith Tuitt, the owner of the other "1HONEY" plate. The city said she is the one with outstanding parking tickets.

When asked if she had ever gotten the boot, Tuitt said she had not.

When asked why she thought it was happening, Tuitt said: "That's for (Wareham) to find out. It's not my problem. I'm sorry it's happening to her."

So why did it happen so many times -- especially when there are safeguards in place?

Before booting, crews are not only supposed to look at license plates, but also vehicle registration to make sure they're locking the right one.

The city said workers failed to do that.

"They recognized they made a mistake. They know they made a mistake," Wareham said.

The Finance Department said as a result of CBS2 looking into the case, "our agency is instituting brand new measures to reduce the occurrence of human error when booting cars that may share the same license plate combination as another vehicle."

"I want them to completely leave me alone, not boot my car. And when they see my car, speed past it," Wareham said.

Wareham can't wait to give this maddening case of mistaken identity the boot.

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