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ASK A COP: What happens to abandoned vehicles?

ASK A COP: What happens to abandoned vehicles?

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Each week, Scottsbluff Police Cpl. Krisa Brass will answer questions submitted by Star-Herald readers. Send questions for consideration to or by leaving your question at 308-632-9057.

Q. What is considered an abandoned vehicle and what happens to abandoned vehicles?

A. A vehicle is considered to be an abandoned vehicle if it meets any of the following criteria: if it’s left unattended with no license plates or valid in transit decals for more than six hours on any public property; if it’s left unattended for more than 24 hours on any public property (except where parking is legally permitted); if left unattended for more than 48 hours after the parking of such vehicle has become illegal; if left on a portion of any portion of public property on which parking is legally permitted; if left unattended for more than 7 days on private property, if left initially without permission of the owner or the owner has terminated said permission; or if it’s left for more than 30 days in the custody of a law enforcement agency after the agency has sent a letter to the last registered owner in accordance to statutes and ordinances.

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Public property refers to any public right-of-way, street, highway, alley, or park or state, county, or municipally owned property. Private property means any privately owned property which is not included within the definition of public property.

Generally speaking, this issue would arise if a vehicle is parked in violation and tagged for tow. If the officer is unable to contact the registered owner, the vehicle has been tagged for tow, and the appropriate amount of time has gone by, the vehicle would be considered abandoned and would then be towed to an impound lot.

At that point, the owner would still have the opportunity to pay the associated fees to have the vehicle released from the impound lot. On the other end of that, if a vehicle has been towed to the impound lot and law enforcement has followed all of the regulations in attempting to contact the owner and notify them of the vehicle’s status and the owner has not communicated within the necessary amount of time, the vehicle would then become city property and is generally auctioned off.

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If a vehicle has been impounded because it was a parking complaint or as a result of an arrest, the registered owner would be responsible for the tow fee and any storage fees that had accrued during the time the vehicle was in police custody. Proof of insurance and a valid driver’s license are required at the time of release.

If you have further questions regarding the release of impounded vehicles, call 308-630-6261.

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