Carjacking victims forced to pay a tow and storage fee to get their stolen vehicles back
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Carjackings victims say they are being victimized twice by having to pay to get their stolen vehicles out of tow yards.
“He threw me out of the truck and I landed on the ground. They drove off and left me lying there,” says a carjacking victim who FOX 8 will not identify.
The carjacking victim was thrown to the ground and left for dead back in December when he tried to stop three men from stealing his truck.
“I had a 2-and-a-half-inch crack in my skull and full-blown concussion,” says the victim.
The victim was rushed to the hospital. Later that afternoon, police say they found his Ford F-150 wrecked after being involved in a hit and run.
The NOPD says officers attempted to contact the victim, but they couldn’t reach him, so they called a towing company on the City of New Orleans Towing Allocation Office list and had it towed away.
“So, now I have to pay the towing charge and the storage charge on my truck. So, all of this is out of pocket for the victims,” says the victim.
The victim says besides his medical bill and lost wages, the towing company is charging him more than $450 to get his truck back. The victim says his truck was totaled.
This victim, though, isn’t alone.
“There are multiple instances where these vehicles are being towed and individuals are being forced to go to the yard in New Orleans East and pay to get their car back that was stolen from them in the first place,” says Council Member J.P. Morrell.
The NOPD tells FOX 8, if a vehicle’s owner cannot be reached, the officer will contact a towing company on the list of the city’s towing allocation office. Towing and storage fees are set by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Morrell, though, says the practice is against state law.
“I think actually both the NOPD and those tow companies are in violation of state law by towing the vehicles and requiring people to pay to get their vehicles back,” says Morrell.
Council President Helena Moreno sent the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Gilbert Montano, a letter informing him that the practice is against state law, calling the practice callous and wrong.
Moreno vows to take an extra step to stop the practice by co-authoring an ordinance to amend the city code, prohibiting the city from imposing the fees on crime victims.
“So, it’s all this out-of-pocket money that the victims have to put out just to try to close everything,” says the victim.
Victims say something must change now to prevent the financial hardships that follow these terrifying crimes.
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