We did a recent story about how it’s usually safe to leave your car keys with a valet, but according to CBS News, it depends on what kind of car you drive. A former valet confesses he’s seen Mercedes Benzes, Porsches, and Ferraris out for joyrides nearly every night. Just ask a New York couple who left their BMW with a valet service near JFK Airport. They wrote down the miles before leaving town, and came back to an extra 700 miles on the odometer! So why are valets going crazy?

First, consider who’s parking your car. If you’re lucky, your valet is someone who parks cars at night after their day job, because studies show they’re the most dedicated employees. Most of the time, it’s a student, because valet hours are flexible and the job requires very little training. Think about this: Background and credit checks are sometimes required for jobs, but valets often get hired not knowing how to drive a stick shift, and without a driver’s license! Also, valets survive on tips. Parking attendants say that just because someone drives a flashy car doesn’t mean they’re a generous tipper. So they may take their tips in trade – by ransacking the valuables left in your car. So, how can you protect your car?

  • First, tip the valet when you drop off the keys, and hint they’ll get another tip if your car’s been properly handled.
  • Next, write down the mileage – and make sure the valet sees you write it down.
  • Another tip for long-term valet parking – be vague about how long you’ll be gone. Don’t leave your house keys. Valets have been known to burglarize homes when the owners are out of town.
  • Finally, you’re trusting a valet with one of your most expensive assets, so be polite. Valets remember their rudest customers, and some bad eggs will take revenge.