Auto Theft Victims Face Smaller Towing Fees

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Recently labeled America's capital of grand theft auto, San Francisco is working to lessen the sting of discovering your car has been stolen.

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco is working to lessen the impact of grand theft auto on citizens.

The city’s Board of Supervisors is currently considering a proposal to lessen the towing fees vehicle owners face in the aftermath of having their vehicle stolen.

The current system employed by San Francisco permits victims of vehicle theft 20 minutes to respond to the scene of where their stolen car is discovered. If the owner does not make it to the site of discovery in time, their vehicle will be towed at their expense.

These towing charges are as high as $500, a number that the city supervisors are working to decrease.

“You’re already victimized once when your car is stolen, and then to be effectively victimized again, it just struck me as unfair,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “It’s also an economic justice issue because for people who are lower income, their car might be their lifeline to get to work, and if they can’t afford to get their car out of the towing yard, that’s a huge hardship.”

“The cost of doing business is more expensive in San Francisco,” said Wiener. “It’s not surprising that there are higher costs, which leads to higher charges. We should always be looking at ways that we can have a system that has enough of a disincentive so that people avoid having their cars towed, but isn’t punitive.”

If approved, the proposal will waive all initial fees for San Francisco residents. Residents of other cities who have their cars abandoned in San Francisco will face $133 fee, slicing the city’s towing fee directly in half.

Towed San Francisco residents will also have a 2-day grace period to recover their vehicle before being forced to play a daily fee of $68.25.

The change will cost the city an estimated $200,000-$300,000 during the eight-month period; a number that is projected based upon the estimated 29,093 auto thefts that San Francisco witnessed in 2014.