NEW BERN -

A parking spot is hard to find during the lunch hour in Downtown New Bern.  Walt Crayton thought he found that perfect spot, but after eating at a local restaurant, Walt went to the parking lot and his car was gone.

"The first thing I thought was that somebody stole it.  I didn't know what to think," said Crayton.

His vehicle was not stolen.  It was towed because Crayton unknowingly parked in a leased space.

"The parking bumpers are completely faded out.  You can see part of a number and part of a word and that's it," said Crayton.

It is to the leasee's discretion whether or not to tow an unwanted vehicle from their spot.  Some owners of towed vehicles went to the leasees of the spaces to confront them.

"We're trying to mitigate that issue by putting up the signs and make it more visible so when people drive in the lot they understand this is a leased space," said City of New Bern Director of Public Works, Mark Stephens.

Signs placed in front of every leased space.  There are also new parking signs pointing driver to the free parking lots.

"We have three parking lots with about 200 spaces available to the public.  Now, they may not be next to the business that they want to go to.  They may have to walk a little bit," said Stephens.

The public parking lots can be found in front of the Double Tree by Hilton, behind the Federal Court House, and by the Farmer's Market, but only when it's not open for business.

Crayton had to learn the about leased parking the hard way, but it's an 85 dollar lesson he will never forget.