Crime victims pay hundreds to retrieve stolen cars from impound lots

Published: Nov. 19, 2015 at 2:41 AM CST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Crime victims are paying, sometimes hundreds of dollars, to get their cars back after having them stolen. An 89-year-old World War II veteran is one of many having to pay up.

"If this is the law, then the law needs to be revised and changed," Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche said.

Goyeneche believes victims shouldn't have to pay twice saying, "That's fundamentally unfair and unjust."

He's referring to a statewide regulation that says if a stolen vehicle is recovered by police, it must be towed by an authorized towing company to their impound lot. The owner of the vehicle then must pay to get it back. That's exactly what happened to the veteran, whom FOX 8 is not identifying because he was the victim of a crime.

"I asked them how much it was and they told me it was $200 some dollars," he said.

On Tuesday night, FOX 8 told you about how the man was carjacked for the second time in two months.

"Believe it or not, I went on the front line and didn't get a scratch, and come home for this," the veteran said.

He ended up paying $243 to release his car. A spokesman for the state Public Service Commission says it regulates the towing industry and sets the fees for every tow company across the state in regards to dealing with stolen vehicles. While the spokesman says the towing companies profit from the money the vehicle owner must pay, the companies have no say in how much will be charged.

We checked with NOPD to see how many stolen vehicles have been recovered so far this year, but they couldn't provide those numbers today. State Police say since March, troopers have found 200 in Orleans Parish.

"There's no telling how many people have been victimized in this matter but whether it's one or its several hundred, it's wrong and it needs to be addressed," Goyeneche said.

The elderly man who lives near Mid-City hopes his car will be found, a second time by the NOPD. But if it is, he knows, he's once again, facing a hefty price tag, to get it back.

In addition to a flat towing rate, the impound lots charge a daily rate meaning the more time your car sits there, the more you'll pay. The vet's car who we interviewed, was only there two days, totaling $243 dollars.

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