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Personal Information Released by Police after Woman Didn’t Pay for Using Bathroom

Most Wichita citizens have probably seen a public bathroom with signs noting that the facilities are for paying customers only. And more than likely, the signs were ignored. Most people don’t give this small rule-breaker a second thought, but Patricia Barnes says she’s learned her lesson.

After Barnes used the facilities at a local restaurant in Erin, Tenn. she received a handwritten bill for $5 in the mail, at her home address. Barnes says that before using the bathroom at Flood Zone, she asked an employee for permission, who said using the bathroom was fine.

But the controversy of it all comes down to how she was mailed the bill. After Barnes left the restaurant, the owner had Barnes’s license plate written down. The owner then contacted the local sheriff, had the plates run, and then released Barnes’s home address to the owner.

Barnes notes that she isn’t upset about the $5 bill, which she tried to pay twice, but the owner refused to accept the money. Instead, she’s upset that law enforcement would release personal information about her. Barnes and her husband are extremely private with their information, due to having a restraining order against someone in their past. Barnes husband noted that, “People don’t have the right to just run your tags and give your information out to just anybody.”

Local state Rep. John C. Tidwell agrees with the Barnes. “The way I interpret it, it would be illegal,” he said, saying that license plate information should only be used for law enforcement functions. “The information should not have ever been given over to the business. That is information that is supposed to be dealt with by the state’s agency or the official.”

Houston County Sheriff, Darrell Allison disagrees. In fact, he said it happens often.

“I would say that happens every day, it’s a very common occurrence,” says Allison.

Owner of Flood Zone, Lisa (who would not give her last name), has stopped charging to use the facilities. She noted that she only wanted to make a point and didn’t think it would go this far.

What does Wichita think about this situation?

If you were driving down Rock Road and needed to use the facilities at a paying customer’s only business, would you pay? Do you think the owner has the right to make customers pay? What if the police released your personal information? Let us know your thoughts with the comment box below.

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