David Mann aims to change city rules on vehicle impoundments

City moves to cut charges on stolen vehicles

CINCINNATI -- If a car is stolen in Cincinnati, it can be costly for the owner.

The current provisions of the city's motor vehicle impoundment municipal code state once a car has been reported as stolen and is recovered by police, the vehicle is taken to a private lot until the owner is notified.

That impound lot then sends the owner a sizeable bill.

But Vice Mayor David Mann says this practice is "crazy" and "unfair."

The bill for recovering a stolen vehicle can cost a driver up to $2,000 in just over a week. Mann said paying the amount isn't worth it for some drivers who have older-model vehicles.

A driver will be charged:

  • A $150 "basic" impound charge
  • An additional $100 for vehicles impounded in accordance with an administrative license suspension, plus undefined "additional" fees
  • Up to $250 towing charge, plus undefined "other" towing expenses 
  • A $75 extended storage fee
  • $25 per day for the time the vehicle is in the lot

Currently, recovered vehicles are taken to private lots, contracted by the city. The lot owner and police are responsible for notifying the victim their car has been found and is waiting to be picked up.

The catch? If they can't find your phone number, they will notify you by mail to your last known address. Meanwhile, they are billing you for each day your vehicle is sitting in the lot. A considerable amount of money can be acquired without the driver being aware that their car has been recovered. 

Mann said this type of treatment is a "double-whammy" for victims and he seeks to modify the rules through a "moral obligation policy."

Mann's ordinance, introduced at City Council on Wednesday, would move to have recovered vehicles taken to an impound facility owned or controlled by the City of Cincinnati. City Manager Scott Stiles said he believes the city can use existing space for this.

The most important modification to the code is a waiver of all fees up to seven days following the recovery of a vehicle. The owner of the vehicle must be notified within three days. 

If the vehicle isn't recovered within seven days under Mann's ordinance, the police department may move the vehicle to a private lot and move to "dispose" of the vehicle. Unclaimed vehicles that sit in police care are usually auctioned within 45 days.

"I hope we can get this issue resolved," Mann said.

The ordinance, supported by Law and Public Safety Committee Chair Chris Smitherman, moves to council next Thursday for a vote.

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