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Sore Tow

By Matt Wood in News on Sep 12, 2006 11:57AM

chicagoist_2006_09_towtruck.jpgIf you think having your car towed is a pain, consider the possibility that if you don't act quickly enough to retrieve it, it could be sold for $150, not a penny of which will go to buy your now-walking ass some new Pro Keds. Chicagoist had no idea the city was so aggressive in disposing of towed cars; we figured they were all shipped off to some desolate impound where a burly, cigar-chomping bureaucrat in a trailer milks them for every penny in late fees and fines he can get. But apparently you only have 21 days to reclaim your ride, or else it's sold for scrap, no matter if it's a Beemer or a hooptie.

This has happened enough that a federal judge granted class action status to people claiming that the city towed and scrapped their cars without giving them proper compensation. The attorney for the plaintiffs told the Sun-Times he thinks they should at least get the Kelly Blue Book values for their cars, which if that's the case, Chicagoist wants to file a suit against the last two dealerships where we traded in a used car.

Now 21 days is a long time for a responsible person to retrieve their most valuable mobile possession, so if you can't get your shit together after three weeks, it's your fault your car is gone. But we could see that happening if, say, you were gone on a long vacation, relocated for work, traded to the Padres, etc. And if we're reading the city towing ordinance correctly (and we want you lawyers out there to correct us if we aren't), you should get more than $150 for it. Section 9-92-100, subsection (c) says:

Where the superintendent of police or commissioner of streets and sanitation determines that an unclaimed impounded vehicle has a value substantially in excess of the scrap value of such vehicle, he may cause it to be sold at a public auction to a person licensed as an automotive parts recycler, rebuilder or scrap processor.

Sounds to us like they are supposed to pay fair market value for all but the nastiest jalopies. Of course, that would be a lot of work, and it's probably easier just to sell them off for cheap to a made contractor.