UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — The dibs debate took an ugly turn last week when a Ukrainian Village woman found her brakes cut after parking in a spot that someone else had shoveled out and reserved with lawn chairs.
The 25-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear, said she discovered her brakes had been cut Friday morning while driving to her job as a hairdresser.
After parking near the intersection of Western Avenue and Iowa Street, she said her car was acting strange as she drove to work about 8:30 a.m. Friday. As a precaution, she took side streets to her job.
It didn’t take long for her to identify the problem: the brakes.
“I realized it was very, very hard to stop,” she said.
Although her vehicle would eventually come to a stop, she said hitting the brake pedal only slowed her down slightly.
When she arrived at work, she immediately called her boyfriend, who referred her to a nearby mechanic. The mechanic later discovered both back brakes were completely severed, resulting in $225 in damages.
The mechanic told her the brakes had been purposely cut, a police report said.
The woman, a seven-year resident of Chicago who said she is "anti-dibs," said she’s never experienced anything like this.
She first shared her story on a private neighborhood watch page for Ukrainian Village and said she's saddened that someone vandalized her car, but she accepts it as "a reality."
But, she said, the logic of dibs doesn’t make sense or feel fair to her.
“We all have reasons to save spots,” she said. “I’m a young girl who shouldn’t be walking around at night, but that doesn’t give me the right to save a spot.”
If it did, she said, people should be allowed to call “dibs” year-round.
Ukrainian Village resident Michael Petrowycz said he doesn’t have a car, but sees dibs taking place everywhere throughout his neighborhood.
“It is a problem because there are more cars than there are parking spaces and everybody’s trying to reserve a space,” Petrowycz said. “I don’t know what the solution would be but I do know that people are taking it into their own hands.”
The aggressive reflex to protect spots claimed by dibs - techincally illegal - has resulted in another sorts of passive-aggressive behavior. A car in Ukrainian Village was pelted with eggs overnight, leading to speculation its driver poached a dibs-protected spot.
One Ravenswood resident posted a picture on EveryBlock of an expletive-laden note she found on her windshield after parking in a space she claimed had no dibs protection. In part, the note read, “It took me 2 hours to dig out of this spot. You are the scum of the Earth and I hope you crash next time you drive...”
In Lincoln Square, neighbors have discussed starting a "Dibs Patrol" to establish a dibs-free zone.
The annual dibs debate even made it into a mayoral debate last week, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and three of his challengers saying the city should allow the practice, at least in part. The mayor said he believes in "sweat equity" when it comes to dibs. City Hall did not immediately respond to a request to comment on this situation. Willie Wilson was the lone mayoral candidate to come out against dibs.
Still, residents in Ukrainian Village say the vandalism the woman experienced is not the norm, citing incidents where neighbors have helped shovel out cars, alleys, sidewalks and more.
"The multiple acts of kindness and being a good neighbor ... sure are a heck of a lot more reflective of our neighborhoods than a jerk who would cut brake lines," wrote Kim Shepherd in an online forum for Ukrainian Village residents.
The woman said now that her story is out there, she feels more cautious about going outside but said “it's important for Chicago to understand the dangers of dibs."
“I definitely feel intimidated and a little scared,” she said. “This person is obviously my neighbor who is capable of doing an awful thing.”
She filed a police report on the incident and said she plans to see if a neighboring school has any surveillance footage that may have captured the culprit. Police said the incident was filed as criminal damage to a vehicle and an investigation is ongoing; no arrests have been made.
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