In one case a valet neglected to verify ownership by not asking for a claim ticket. (It happens.)
This poor fellow above tells the story of how a New York City valet worker gave his car away to somebody else merely because the person said it was their car.
This happens. If you act like a car is yours, and if you have a ten or twenty dollar bill in your hand, you can probably get an underpaid valet to give up the key to a car.
If a valet is making as little as $2.13 an hour (the tipped federal minimum wage that applies in 19 states) and if it appears they are about to get a 10 or 20 dollar tip, they don't want to do anything to jeopardize that tip (like by inconveniencing the person with a request to show the claim ticket).
Even if the valet asks for the claim ticket, if the person says they can't find it, a valet might just turnover the car to them anyway—because there might be no time to mess around with this issue. If the driveway is busy, if a bunch of irritated people are waiting for their cars, then the valet staff wants that car out of there. They want the transaction done and over with so they can run for the next car, and (to un-clog the driveway). So if you seem legit, they will just think "fuck it" and hand over the key, especially if a nice tip appears to be imminent.
And if a particular valet location has never had a car stolen from them before, then that makes it really easy to be lackadaisical with skipping the claim check verification step.
It's just too easy. There is a lot of bad management in this industry.
In another case of valet theft that happened this week, somebody stole a Porsche at gun point! If the valet's story is true, that's unusual.
I've plugged my Valet Client ID Cards and Codeword Cards on this site to reduce the chance of a valet giving your car away to a thief... but nobody cares.
These incidents of valets giving cars away to car thieves don't have to happen.