Victims of Car Theft Asked to Pay Up

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(Memphis) A North Memphis family whose car was stolen off their front lawn is now being billed nearly $1,000 to retrieve their car from a towing yard.

Bobbie Sanders said their 1996 Buick Century is only worth $500, but it still works well. The bill to get it though, will be $996.69 by Tuesday.

She said the car was stolen on March 16th.

Sanders began calling local salvage yards, but stopped when she was told Memphis police would contact her when the car was found.

“I was assured by the sergeant in charge of our case that if it was found in West Memphis or California, I would be notified the day it was found,” she said.

Instead, she was notified by Heck’s Wrecker Service via certified mail. The letter told her the car was found at a rest stop in West Memphis on March 25th and towed to their lot.

The letter also stated that if the car is not claimed in 45 days, it will be dismantled, destroyed, or sold at public auction.

According to both Memphis and West Memphis law enforcement, any official who runs a tag will find out from a national database if the car is stolen. If it comes up stolen, the agency can send a “locate” message to the investigating agency, who then contacts the victim.

In this case, the investigating agency is Memphis police.

“Memphis police say it’s Arkansas’ fault, and Arkansas says it’s Memphis Police’s fault. I’m not sure who to be angry with,” Sanders said.

In any case, her family is now left with the bill.

The only help may come from West Memphis law enforcement contacting the owner of the towing company, to see if the owner will reduce the bill. The adjustment would be a courtesy, but not policy for the towing company to do so.

“Somebody just needs to make it right,” she said. Even if they left the car in the hands of the towing company, they would still have a lien they're responsible for.

While she said the towing company staff has been perfectly nice about the whole situation, she does feel frustrated over the lack of communication about where the car was.

The manager at Heck’s Wrecking Service told News Channel 3 he has seen this scenario happen a few times in the past.

Neither Memphis police nor West Memphis police were able to pull up reports on this exact case before the end of business hours on Monday.