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Lost his car in the parking ot, so the mall bans him for life!


                 Lost a car, found a mess
Prowling the jammed mall lot draws unfriendly attention from security and police.
By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer
Published December 23, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Larry DiSalvo called Saturday the worst shopping day of his life.

Not even close.

There he stood in the Tyrone Square Mall parking lot, surrounded by three police cruisers and mall security. Police had searched and interrogated him. All the while, DiSalvo said, shoppers gawked, perhaps wondering whom he had killed.

The 57-year-old said he was guilty of one thing: forgetfulness. He lost his 1991 Grand Marquis in a sea of 6,000 parked cars.

But mall security thought he was wandering the parking lot looking for cars to break into.

The result: He's banned from the mall for life.

"They gave me the shopping equivalent of a life term without any parole," the retired real estate agent said. "I'm a mall person. I grew up in malls. I've never in my 57 years on this planet had a problem in a mall.

"Unfortunately," he said, "today my unlucky number came up."

DiSalvo has no apparent criminal record. He said he is an honest Treasure Island resident who has shopped at Tyrone for 14 years without incident. He denied even thinking of breaking into a car.

Tyrone security refused to comment, and mall management did not return calls.

St. Petersburg police said they witnessed no crime, and just issued a trespass warning to DiSalvo at the request of the mall. "It's a decision made by the property owners," said police Sgt. Mark Degan, a shift supervisor. "The officers felt they didn't see any criminal intent," otherwise DiSalvo could have faced arrest.

The day started so encouragingly.

DiSalvo arrived at the mall at 8 a.m. hoping to beat the crowds. He needed to return a piece of jewelry at JCPenney. He found a parking space right away, and hardly gave it a thought as he walked into the mall.

After returning the jewelry he has a receipt to prove it, he wandered a few stores and ate lunch.

DiSalvo dropped a dollar into the Salvation Army pot as he walked out, idly thinking it would bring him good luck.

That's when he looked up and thought, "Oh, my God. I'm lost."

DiSalvo said he wandered one way, then another, peering over cars looking for his white Marquis. After 5 or 10 minutes, mall security drove up. He said he figured they would offer help finding the car.

Instead, DiSalvo said, they told him he had been seen peering into and trying to enter cars. To his astonishment, he said, they told him to leave the property immediately.

Of course, he still hadn't found the car.

So DiSalvo walked across the street to a Kinkos, where he tried to call someone for a ride. That's when police arrived, called by the mall.

The whole thing might have taken an hour. He was repeatedly questioned. Police said they were told he had run away from security. DiSalvo denied it, saying he simply ran across a busy street to avoid heavy traffic.

Degan said mall security informed police they saw DiSalvo trying to break into cars. Someone at Macy's, police were told, saw the same thing.

All nonsense, DiSalvo said.

Police took him back to the mall lot, surrounding him like a common criminal, he said.

Finally, mall security took his picture, he said, and banned him forever, which, DiSalvo added, hurts Sears more than him.

That's where he does most of his shopping.

"If this could happen to me, God forbid, it could happen to your grandmother," DiSalvo said. "It's just ridiculous. I'm as clean as the fresh-driven snow. That's verifiable."

Security did finally find DiSalvo's car. He drove away, never to return.



Entry #34


Coin TossComment by Coin Toss - December 25, 2007, 5:48 pm
I thought this story would end with something like, Nyet, tovarich!

What country are we in?
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 25, 2007, 7:02 pm
Losing your can be irritating, but it's not a crime! I've been embarrassed too. I pretend I'm just walking around, so maybe I look suspicious. I once started to open the door (it was locked) of another Camry. After all, if you drive around this area, some of the parking lots look like Toyota dealerships! Anyway, I use my remote and see the lights flash! However, I admit I've "lost" my car especially when I've parked in a mall (unlike this man, I hate them) or stadium where there are many entrances and exits. Once at the Barbara B. Mann auditorium I went out an exit in the pouring rain and my car was nowhere to be found. A very nice lady picked me up and drove me around until I spotted it on the other side. What a mess! When I went into the concert, it wasn't dark outside.

I know it's a good idea to always write down where your car is or look for a landmark. But they wouldn't sell GPS units for walking if people didn't get lost all the time. They're the latest craze for hiking, boating, driving and even taking a casual stroll. People use their cell phones all the time for GPS and computers too.

I believe this man, although the way the security guards acted sounds so over the top that at first I wondered if the story was entirely true. Unfortunately, anytime a person does something suspicious, whether innocent or not, there is always that doubt. That's why it's important for the media to shut up when there isn't a case. People get tried by the news all the time.

Once I had a very bad headache and had worked late at the office. It was a long time ago, but I'll never forget it. I filled the plastic basket at the Stop & Shop with some grocery items and, on the way to the register, stopped to read some ads (apartments & such) thumbtacked to the cork bulletin board. I then proceeded to go out the door and into my car. I drove home with the basket of food and when I stopped the car I shouted "Oh, Sh**! I called the store and was told to write down each item and to just come back when it was convenient for me. To this day I wonder if I innocently did something really spaced out like put something in my pocket absent-mindedly if I'd get into big trouble, so I try not to talk to myself too much when I'm out shopping (except at home! :-)

Coin Toss, if this man doesn't have a record, he's a 57 year old real estate agent, and he can prove he went to stores and shopped, etc., then I'm sure he was just looking for his car. That area is mobbed this time of year. I was once on route 19 in Jan and it was a parking lot for miles. The Grand Marquis has always been the number one selling car in Florida. In fact, there used to be jokes about them. It's a good car, but I worked for Lincoln Mercury in the 90s and said I'd never buy one just because of the stereotype here. My Dad was almost 93 when he passed away. He had a Grand Marquis.
Coin TossComment by Coin Toss - December 25, 2007, 11:42 pm
Thanks for replying, Justxploring.

I think we've all "spaced out" at one time or another.

Remember the Seinfeld episode that as all about them not being able to find their car in the parkoing garage?

For a mall to ban this guy is really ridiculous.

justxploringComment by justxploring - December 26, 2007, 1:05 am
Someone I lost a word in my first sentence. I guess losing your can (not car) is irritating too. That's also happened to me. :-)
justxploringComment by justxploring - December 26, 2007, 1:57 am
Then I write "someone' and mean "somehow." Has this happened to anyone? Oy!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year everybody! :-)

Have a wonderful 2008 Coin Toss and Mrs. Coin Toss too.
time*treatComment by time*treat - December 26, 2007, 5:29 am
The Iron Curtain didn't fall. It was just loaned out.
JakeComment by Jake - December 26, 2007, 9:17 am
What struck me was the location - FLORIDA?   Almost 20% of Florida's population is 65+ and more at 45-65 - what's the first thing to go for a lot of people after eyesight/hair - Memory!   My mom loses her car all the time. I say - Boycott this mall if you are old enough to tie your shoes.
Comment by pumpi76 - December 26, 2007, 2:48 pm
that's hillarious...but it can happen to anyone...

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