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Police: Man stole parking meters to pay for drugs

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Jeffrey Kaput

A West Side man told police he stole and then busted open four 200-pound pay-and-display parking meters from city streets so he could support his drug habit, authorities said.

"I dropped my crack pipe," Jeffery Kaput, 38, said when he was pulled over late Monday in the 5500 block of West Augusta, a police report alleged.

Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. ordered Kaput held in lieu of $200,000 bail Wednesday on four counts of felony theft. Kaput, of the 5500 block of West Cortez, was also charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12, Kaput rammed into the LAZ parking boxes with his van and then put the felled machines in the back of his vehicle, Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said.

Scaduto said some of the meters had coins, which a police source said Kaput swiped to pay for his drugs. Each meter cost $6,100, Scaduto said.

The Area 5 robbery mission team pursued Kaput Monday night when they were alerted that his vehicle had been used to damage one of the meters, police said.

Earlier this month, a police spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times that 20 meters had been stolen since mid-September. Of those, four had been recovered, the spokesman said.

The parking meter deal has been a political headache for Mayor Daley and aldermen who granted lightning-fast approval of the the 75-year, $1.15 billion deal to privatize the city's 36,000 meters. Motorists have complained about steep hikes, broken pay boxes and improperly calibrated meters that overcharged them.

Contributing: Rosemary Sobol