1,600 stolen cars towed, victims possibly illegally charged

1,600 stolen cars towed, victims possibly illegally charged

Data compiled by City Council President Helena Moreno shows that 1,640 stolen vehicles have been towed by private operators over the past three years.

NEW ORLEANS — A push by the New Orleans City Council to reimburse crime victims who have been forced to pay to retrieve their stolen or carjacked vehicles is going to come with a steep price tag.

Data compiled by City Council President Helena Moreno shows that 1,640 stolen vehicles have been towed by private operators over the past three years.

After WWL-TV raised the issue in a story about a carjacking victim who had to pay more than $400 last month to retrieve his car from a private lot, Moreno proposed an ordinance to reimburse crime victims.

A former state legislator, Moreno said she was shocked and disappointed that the city wasn’t utilizing a 2017 state law that prohibits crime victims from being charged to recover their property.

The 1,640 vehicles being towed to private lots since the beginning of 2019 was another shock, Moreno said. In addition to the ordinance to reimburse victims, Moreno said she is now planning a budget committee hearing to determine how much money needs to be allotted to cover the anticipated costs.

“The amount of stolen vehicles called in to be towed away by private companies is much greater than anticipated,” Council President Helena Moreno wrote in a statement. “I can only assume that the owners of these stolen vehicles were asked to pay out of pocket to get their cars back. As I’ve repeatedly stated, that’s illegal, and the Council will ensure the City takes the steps to correct.” 

Council member Joe Giarrusso is on board with the effort.

In a statement Giarrusso wrote, “It is unacceptable that victims of these crimes are being victimized twice – first when their vehicle is stolen, and again when they have to pay to get it back. “This is the first step to helping some victims receive the justice they deserve.”

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