The Confounding Case of the Serial Striker

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There’s a guy in my dorm parking lot who keeps hitting my car. And other people’s cars as well. Call him the Serial Striker. We have assigned parking spaces. This guy is right across from me. Not only has he left multiple paint marks on my bumper and door, but I’ve seen him nudge my car. The other day I heard other people who live in my dorm complain about him as well. Some people have complained to parking services. I don’t know. But I don’t think anybody has confronted him about it. I’m not a perfect driver—who is? —but this guy gets on my nerves. Plus, is it safe to have a guy ramming his truck into everything in the parking lot? I don’t know how to confront this guy on what he’s doing, and I don’t know what legal recourse I have at my disposable. Should I take a video? I appreciate any help.


The Serial Striker! We always have neighbors who make our lives tough. When it comes to our cars, those kinds of neighbors get under our skin—cars are expensive! Not to mention the fact that nothing seems to change. Of course, you can’t blame the other people in the dorm for that. Certain extenuating circumstances may exist with them. They may also exist with your parking services. However, you still should talk to them. Since you detailed some of the steps you know, let’s look at some of the steps that you haven’t mentioned in your email, so we can explore every possibility. Most of the other steps you take boil down to keeping communication open and being smart and informed about legal and insurance issues.


Our first piece of advice is to talk to him if you’re comfortable with that. It’s possible that nobody has confronted him, and he doesn’t think anybody has noticed, or perhaps many people have, and he doesn’t care. Either way, he needs a talking to and one more person doing the talking won’t hurt. It is the same with your school’s parking services. If you talk to them and nobody has yet, they need to know. If people reported it multiple times, you’re adding another important allegation to a thick file.


How bad is he damaging your car? You said that he has left marks of paint on your car. Are there dents and dings as well? Has he damaged your car so bad that you need a forklift rental, or you rub out the paint on your own withpolishing compound? If the damage is serious you should get your insurance company involved and call the police. According to The Law Offices of Gold, Albanese, Barletti & Locascio, a law firm in Red Bank, NJ, not only may the insurance company compensate you, they may also check to see if he has insurance.


According to Otterstedt Insurance Agency, insurance information is made public and goes to your state’s DMV. If you have called your insurance company, they should also have information on his insurance. The fact that you have his license plate is an advantage: it’s easier for them to track down his information when you provide it to them. His tendency to bump-and-run is a significant liability for him. It could result in as little as a misdemeanor charge, or as bad as jail time. If he does not know that already, you should inform him of the risk he is putting himself in, from legal and financial standpoints. Not only fines, but, according, investigative and legal fees are also on the line.


How do you handle yourself when you do confront him? Do it with respect, without getting angry or accusing him of being a terrible person. This articlefrom Jalopnik has some great advice on how to confront a bad driver, and it boils down to not giving into to your rage. Yes, he is a bother and a danger to everyone in your dorm. That doesn’t mean, however, that he should get enmity. He may not care, or he may think that what he is doing isn’t a big deal.


If this sounds a little like an intervention, it should. Sometimes people don’t want to deal with the consequences of their actions, so they avoid them as much as possible. When mistakes accumulate, the psychological response is often to push the problem farther away from our consciousness, rather than to acknowledge it. Imagine a student who has a perfect, 4.0 GPA, who makes a C- on their midterm. They’re going to tear themselves up! Now imagine a student who has a 1.3. That C- looks pretty good.


We adapt to our circumstances, and different people’s judgements differ by their environment. A set ofadventures in New York is different from experiences in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but, depending on the person, either one could make a memorable vacation. From a psychological POV, he became acclimated to nudging other cars in the parking lot: he may still be in Mississippi in his head, but the reality is that he’s in New York. You must remind him where he is, what he’s doing, and that the way he treats the parking lot isn’t ok.


We suggest avoiding more extreme measures—such as surveillance. Even if it’s something like taking a cell-phone video of him pulling out of his parking space. Though you may want to collect admissible evidence, Upstate DNA Testing, a firm that conducts DNA testing in Upstate New York, writes that evidence collected without another party’s consent could be subject to an “exclusionary rule,” meaning that it could get thrown out if you try to initiate legal proceedings against him. To make matters worse, this is illegal in some states and could land you in violation of wiretapping laws, according to the Digital Media Law Project. It may land you in more trouble than it lands him.

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