Where's Your Car? Stolen or Towed ... or Both?

By Finding the Sweet Spot
|  Friday, Dec 3, 2010  |  Updated 10:30 AM PDT
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Where's Your Car? Stolen or Towed ... or Both?

mosaicwine.wordpress.com

When you go outside and your car is gone, two scenarios run through your mind -- either it was stolen, or it was towed. The one scenario that doesn't pop to mind, but can happen in a costly way? Both.

Each year, AutoReturn tows about 70,000 cars in San Francisco. Each year, about 6,000 cars are stolen. There are no stats on the doubly unlucky types that get their car jacked and then it gets towed.

If it's towed, it’s going to cost you about $400 to get it back. This is up from $188.25 just a few years ago. The towing fee is currently $199.25, and there is a City of San Francisco “Administrative Fee” of $186.50.

I’ll save you the trouble of calling up your calculator app…. That’s about $14 million for AutoReturn, and a little over $13 million for the City each year.

If you are doubly unlucky, and your car is stolen, and then towed, the good news is that if you are a resident of SF, you will not have to pay the towing and storage fees.

The bad news is that if you are not a resident of SF, and you want your car back, you will have to pay $385.75, then $59.75/day for every day your vehicle is stored.

Every stolen vehicle that was towed in SF used to be exempt from towing and storage fees, but in 2005 a law was approved that only city residents should be exempt from paying the fees. It passed the Board of Supervisors 9-2.

The Bay Area was ninth in the nation for stolen-car frequency in 2008. Last year it was seventh. This year? Time will tell.

For more tips, information and all-around parking help, visit FindingTheSweetSpot.com and peruse or pick up a book.

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