Unsuspecting Wellington motorists are being stung by council contractors issuing tickets in the dead of night.
New figures from Wellington City Council reveal that Wellingtonians are being ticketed at all times of the day and night. A breakdown of a year's parking tickets shows 1403 fines were handed out between the hours of 11pm and 7am.
One person was ticketed at 3am for not having a current registration, and another for parking in a loading zone.
More than 280,000 tickets were handed out in the past financial year.
The figures reveal Thursdays between 11am and midday to be the time most parking tickets are issued, with an expired pay and display ticket the most common offence.
When it comes to the early hours of the morning, 15 people were fined between 4am and 5am on Saturday mornings, mainly for parking in "temporarily discontinued" car parks - parks that have been temporarily removed for events in the city, such as the Christmas parade.
As dawn breaks, 508 people on Saturdays, and 437 on Sunday mornings were fined from 6am to 7am - the majority for parking in residents-only car parks.
The council made $8.9 million from parking enforcement last year, unaudited figures show - making the average fine about $32.
Council spokesman Grahame Armstrong said the figures showed that people should not be complacent about parking enforcement, no matter what the time of night.
"Unfortunately, some drivers seem to think they can drive around the city after midnight and park wherever they like, without considering the impact on other people."
Formal patrols officially finished at 11pm, so any tickets issued later than that were due to complaints.
The council contracts out ticketing. Parkwise, a subsidiary of Armourguard Security, is subcontracted to do on-street enforcement. However, between 11pm and 6am, on-duty Armourguard security supervisors - who are warranted wardens - respond to complaints and issue tickets.
"If someone comes outside at 2am because there's a noisy party going on next door and sees a car parked in their residents' parking space or across their driveway, then they are likely to call it in," Mr Armstrong said.
"It's also not unusual for us to receive calls at night reporting cars parked over fire hydrants."
Early morning complaints were also common after parties. "We also get a lot of complaints from residents who come out of their houses after daybreak at the weekend and find cars still parked up over driveways - it appears that for various reasons a lot of people just forget about their cars.
"Most residents tend to get highly annoyed when they find they're blocked in just because someone's sleeping off a hangover somewhere nearby."
Friday nights were the busiest night of the week, with pay and display parking going until 8pm, rather than 6pm as on other weeknights.
Parking in the city centre is free at weekends, but there is a limit of two hours.
Normal foot patrols operate 8am-6pm Monday to Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 8am-8pm on Friday. The complaints vehicle operates 6am-11pm Monday to Sunday, checking clearways, resident parking spaces and responding to complaints. If a complaint is received outside this time an Amourguard Security supervisor, who is a warranted warden, responds.
BY THE NUMBERS
280,723 parking fines handed out in the 2011-12 financial year
769 fines a day
Friday is the busiest day of the week, with 54,421 tickets over the year
11am to midday Thursdays is the busiest hour, with 7171 tickets
Quietest time during business hours is 1pm to 2pm.
76,917 tickets - 27 per cent - for overstaying in a pay-and-display space for less than 30 minutes
1 ticket handed out for parking in a space reserved for authorised food vendors only
76 different parking offences that people were ticketed for
$8.9 million in parking fines a year - an average fine of $32
- The Dominion Post