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Proposed ordinance would ease fees for car theft victims

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Councilors are considering a way to ease the financial burden for people who find their cars stolen by relieving them of some towing and storage fees.

Lisa Hale sat in the front row at the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting on Monday night to hear a proposal on the issue introduced.

“I don’t think it’s right to re-victimize the victim,” she said.

Hale said in 2017 she came back from vacation to find her son’s motorcycle missing. She says he serves in the Marine Corps in California, so she couldn’t get it back from a tow yard right away. She said IMPD worked with her, but she still lost money.

“There’s a lot of people like me who spent a lot of money,” Councilor Joe Simpson said.

The issue came to his attention when Simpson said he had to pay to get his daughter’s stolen car out of a tow yard several years ago.

“It’s a situation where I found out a lot of people, I knew I wasn’t the only one,” he said.

He’s now sponsoring Proposal 117. It would require police to notify vehicle owners when storage facilities receive vehicles. Owners would be given a seven-day period without towing or storage fees charged. The vehicle must be reported stolen.

“I think that doing this proposal is going to make the Marion County taxpayer feel there’s some relief for them,” Simpson said.

Police provided this statement on the recovery and notification process:

When a resident’s vehicle is stolen, IMPD makes a reasonable effort to contact the vehicle owner to arrange for the vehicle to be picked up on scene of the recovery, if possible. If no contact can be made with the owner, or if the vehicle cannot be picked up on scene, a contract vendor tows and stores the vehicle and the officer notifies the Auto Desk of a stolen vehicle recovery. Any fees and storage costs for the vehicle are charged by the vendor.

The Auto Desk will continue to attempt to contact the owner by phone three times a shift over all three shifts for three consecutive days.  On the fourth day, the Auto Desk requests an officer to be dispatched to make an in-person notification.

The fees charged by the towing vendor are sometimes covered by insurance policies – we encourage residents to contact their insurance providers to verify their coverage. Residents in need of financial assistance are encouraged to call Connect2Help by dialing 2-1-1.

The proposal is expected to move to a committee next.

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