Police in Chicago have begun cracking down on illegally-stationed food trucks, allegedly using some of the same social media tools that many vendors rely upon. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, several truck operators have reported a surge in ticketing and fines over the past month, with some claiming that police show up within just minutes of their arrival.
This has led some to conclude that authorities are tracking the city's trucks on Facebook and Twitter, which many vendors use to announce their location on a given day. Lupita Kuri, owner of the Sweet Ride bakery, said she was ticketed one day before even serving her first customer. "You can’t get me for premeditated selling of a cupcake," Kuri protested. A spokesman for the police department denied accusations of a citywide initiative against food trucks, but acknowledged he was unaware of any directives that may have been launched on a district level.
Others believe the crackdown may have been spurred by recent calls for a new city ordinance that would ease restrictions on where food trucks can do business. Current city laws prohibit food trucks from operating within 200 feet of any brick-and-mortar restaurants, making it difficult for owners to do business in prime neighborhoods, and forcing many to illegally set up shop in loading zones.
During a meeting to discuss the proposed ordinance with city officials, a group of vendors reportedly disclosed a list of some of their most popular locations. Amy Le, owner of the DucknRoll truck, says police began showing up at these exact locations not long after their meeting, and she doesn't think it was a coincidence. "We didn’t realize it was going to be used against us," Le said.