Should You Have to Pay to Get Your Stolen Car Back?

If your car gets stolen, there’s a good chance you may never see it again. However, if police can recover your vehicle still intact, there’s another problem you’ll run into. Car theft victims have repeatedly reported being charged hundreds of dollars to get their car back. They’ve done nothing wrong, so that doesn’t sit right with us. Should you have to pay to get your stolen car back?

Victims of car theft have to pay to get their stolen car back

An impound lot, which is where police take stolen cars making people pay to get them back
Impound lot | FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

According to Denver7, they’ve repeatedly heard from crime victims who had to pay hundreds to impound lots to get a stolen car back. Specifically, Denver7 reported one victim saying, “calling Arapahoe County deputies after someone stole her Jeep did not help her at all. If anything, she says it hurt her.” That seems to be the case for most people, who aren’t informed right away when police locate the vehicle.

“They actually found it three days after it was stolen, but they didn’t call me,” she said. “There was really no point in filing the police report. It would have been better to put up fliers and say, ‘Have you seen my vehicle?’ and have somebody text me. I would have gone to go get it”

When the victim was aware that police found her car, the impound fee reached nearly $900. This isn’t the first instance of this happening and certainly won’t be the last. Denver7 said it had received many reports of the same issue.

Why should car theft victims pay to get it back?

A carjacker attempts to steal a car, when police recover it, the victim will need to pay to get it back.
A carjacker breaks into a vehicle | Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As perplexing as it might sound, this is common in most places. Once a car is stolen, police attempt to find it and don’t alert the owner. Instead, the car sits in an impound lot, racking up fees. In the end, owners who had their vehicle stolen are relieved to find out police recovered it, and in working condition, then they’re slapped with a massive bill. Why would anyone pay for having their car stolen?

One man who spoke with Denver7 talked about his small business’s box truck that was stolen. It was recovered without him knowing and went to the impound lot, costing hundreds of dollars. Unfortunately, he didn’t have cash at the time to pay the bill, so it just sat in impound. Colorado state representative Tom Sullivan proposed a statewide crime victims impound fund, which many other states use. He blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for killing the first effort and a lack of funding for the second.

The real solution is police not impounding stolen vehicles without contacting car theft victims

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While a statewide victims impound fund and other ideas might help, there’s only one real solution. Police should notify the owner of the vehicle the minute it’s found. Especially when the car is still in working condition, the victim will obviously want it back. Police prioritizing taking the stolen car to the impound lot isn’t good for anyone. We would think it would be easier for police to get the victim to pick up the vehicle than worry about towing it to the impound lot and everything that goes with it.

“At least when it was stolen by a random person, I could have been angry at that and that was a crime. Now, I’m just mad. I’m just upset, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Hayes told Denver7.

In conclusion, if your car gets stolen, stay on the case as best you can. While you likely won’t be able to constantly contact the officers on the case, having a contact within the department might be possible. At the very worst, you might be able to catch your car the first day it’s in the impound lot before the bill reaches $900 or more. However, we don’t think you should have to pay to get your stolen car back, ever.

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