Two Atlanta women are fighting against private companies that boot people’s vehicles then charge predatory prices to have them removed.
Boot Girls, as they are affectionately called, have grown their presence in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead area, where they unlock boots strapped on the tires of cars.
In a recent boot removal, the owner of a Jaguar asks for a picture with one of the women who freed the owner’s car from a boot.
“I support ya’ll,” he said as told through an NPR reporter who followed the girls around town as they removed car boots.
Boot Girls are comprised of Boot Baby and Boot Sheisty who have amassed close to 85,000 followers just one month after starting an Instagram account.
The pair said they began the business after Boot Sheisty’s car got booted at an apartment complex in April.
Rather than pay the city to have the boot removed, she called a friend who had a key that could unlock the boot. The two would eventually buy their own keys and
“ever since then, we just went on our bullsh”t,” Boot Sheisty told NPR.
The pair, who previously were beauticians, average about 40 boot removals daily, Boot Baby said. “It’s just a blessing, honestly.”
The pair further added that their business is helping everyday Georgians who they believe are being scammed to pay exorbitant fees to have boots removed from their cars.
“We have sued, I would presume, every single booting company in Georgia,” attorney Matt Wetherington told NPR. “We’re trying to stop what I consider piracy, because they’re seizing your property, and you’re not getting it back until you give them money, and your options for recourse are essentially nonexistent.”
In 2018, a vehicle owner was charged $650 to have a boot removed at a shopping center parking lot.
“It is a crazy thing to say the normal cure for an unauthorized entry on your property is to insist that the trespasser remain on your property,” Atlanta’s chief justice said in during a hearing, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I mean, that’s nutso under any conception of the law. … Where in the world can you say a cure for trespass is to continue the trespass?”
The owner of the vehicle eventually took the case to Georgia’s Supreme Court, who ruled in the car owner’s favor.
“Georgia is kind of the epicenter of booting and frankly, there is no other community in the world that we’re aware of where there is booting practice the way that it is here,” Wetherington said.
Meanwhile, Boot Girls say they will continue to work to protect citizens from predatory booting companies.
“You know, we don’t really, we don’t look for no problem,” Boot Sheisty said. “We’re gonna expand and we’re also going to do it until we can’t.”