Masked "Boot Girls" Are Freeing Booted Cars All Over Atlanta

The word “vigilante” has a negative connotation, but the origin of the word says it means “watchman” or “guard.” Call the “Boot Girls” of Atlanta vigilantes if you want, but the two women are clearly on a mission: to remove the boots placed on cars by the city. Boots — those annoying, clunky metal devices that clamp onto one of the car’s wheels to prevent the vehicle from moving — are becoming a point of contention in Georgia’s capital city. Some residents are frustrated with what they say is excessive booting, and now they’re finding ways around it. After experiencing the placement of a land anchor themselves, the Boot Girls obtained a boot key from someone who manufactured the tool. Then they began offering their boot removal service for $50 each, taking orders via text and Instagram as word spread. Parking companies, private properties, and private booting companies are upset at this turn of events, and the City of Atlanta is clear about how it feels about the freelance boot removal. “While owning a boot key is not illegal, here is what the public needs to know,” reads the Atlanta Police Department’s Facebook page. “If you use a boot key to modify, tamper with, or disengage a booting device from a vehicle, you can be charged with criminal trespass and/or theft of services.” One person who appears to be willing to look the other way is Senator Josh McLaurin, who introduced a bill that would have banned booting altogether, but it didn’t advance. He hasn’t give up, and plans to call for it again in the next session, advocating for paper tickets, controlled access, and towing as alternatives.