Background of MPD impound lot reveals history of complaints

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland called for an immediate investigation after a van that was in the Memphis Police Department's impound lot was found to have a body inside.

The Memphis impound lot has been at the center of controversy before.

Thousands of cars are brought there after wrecks or after they're recovered when reported stolen.

But for years, citizens racked up complaints about items missing from their vehicles when they came to pick them up.

Theft was apparently happening at the impound yard and the city was paying out thousands in claims.

The City of Memphis, under Mayor A.C. Wharton, did a major shift after learning the thefts could have been an inside job.

It took management of the impound lot away from an outsourced agency and put it in the hands of Memphis Police.

It also set procedures that were to be followed. Vehicles were supposed to be inventoried, pictures should be taken and items inside should be listed so the city would know what was sitting on their lot.

If that procedure was followed, reason would have it that a body inside a vehicle would have been detected.

"Any and all policies or common practices that may have allowed this to occur will be reviewed. This is unacceptable and should never have happened," Police Director Michael Rallings said.

WREG asked Memphis Police about the procedures they put in place after taking over the impound lot. They told us we have to file a freedom of information request.

"The City of Memphis dropped the ball on that one, the impound and the Police Department. I mean, if somebody is dead in the back of a car and has been there for 50 days, forensics dropped the ball on that one," a resident said.

People picking up their vehicles at the impound lot were shocked things aren't thoroughly checked.

"Well, they check them out, look inside and see what's in there right? They see what's going on, I would think. Maybe they just don't. I guess they just check them in," a resident said.