Thursday, June 30, 2011

On Flash Flooding, Towing, and Fees

Here is a copy of a Letter to the Editor that CVAC sent to the Post Dispatch this morning:

KSDK Channel 5 reported a story on June 29 about Cherri House, a woman whose car was towed after stalling in rapidly rising flash flooding on I-70. Due to the high volume of stalled cars and the emergency situation, her car was not taken to a tow yard, but was left on a side street. There are no records of where her car was deposited after the towing, and she has been unable to find the car for at least 4 days. (LINK)

The story ends with the suggestion from employees at the City’s towing division that she “report [the car] stolen and hope the police can track it down.” Reporting it stolen, when there is no confirmation that is the case, is potentially a waste of valuable police resources, as well as the time and resources of the car owner. Crime Victim Advocacy Center feels it is important to remember that, if the car is recovered as a stolen auto, it may be towed to a city lot at Ms. House’s expense if she cannot make it to the recovery site in the limited time that a responding officer can devote to staying with the vehicle.

In the City of St. Louis and many surrounding jurisdictions, victims are responsible for paying towing fees even if their car is reported as stolen before it is recovered. We ask that the City be cognizant of this situation and do whatever is necessary to avoid subjecting Ms. House and those in similar situations to this undue stress. We also ask that the City and Police Department reconsider this policy in all stolen auto cases to prevent re-victimizing citizens who have already had a crime committed against them.