Should victims pay to retrieve their stolen cars?

Annette Fox

Annette Fox is holding a garage sale at her home in Solvay. She says she needs to raise about $500.00. Fox says her 2008 Ford Focus was stolen last week and now she has to shell out hundreds of dollars to get it out of an impoundment lot on Lodi Street on Syracuse's north side. Fox considers herself as twice a victim and her car as a hostage. "I don't think I should have to pay for it because my car was stolen." she says.

Fox says a few days after heer car was stolen off the street, State Police recovered it and arrested the thief. Because it was considered evidence, the car was taken to the impoundment lot at where it has been sitting ever since. Even though the D.A.'s Office has released the car and given Annette permission to retrieve it, she was shocked to learn she could not get it back until she paid $320.00 plus $30.00 per day for storage. Fox says the city needs to change procedures to show "more compassion... victims shouldn't pay for something somebody else did."

CNY Central tried to reach a representative of 207 Auto Sales and Towing, but no one came to the door.

Syracuse Common Council President Van Robinson points out that tow operators are hired by city hall to impound and store stolen cars "I personally do not feel the victim should be penalized." Robinson told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon.

In response to our story, Robinson said he directed his staff to research how other cities handle the towing and storage of stolen cars. "Hopefully some good will come out of it. The victim would not be victimized in more than one way."

Robinson says if he can find a way to protect victims of car thieves from paying out huge sums just to get their cars back, he will work with the city Law Department to change the city ordinance.

A spokesperson for Mayor Stephanie Miner says "generally the administration works with tow operators to ensure that victims don't have to pay large impoundment fees on stolen cars." The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office says it has received dozens of similar complaints from victims and has requested that the city rectify the situation.