AURORA, Colo. — Contact Denver7 has been exposing predatory towing for more than a year. Following our coverage, state lawmakers recently passed legislation that would crack down on the industry. The bill is awaiting Gov. Jared Polis' signature.
Consumer investigator Jaclyn Allen found that shining a light on the issue has public officials looking for more solutions.
In Denver and Colorado Springs, crime victims' fees are waived at city-owned impound lots.
"If you get your car stolen, and then you have to pay to get your vehicle out of the impound, you're a victim of crime twice," said Major Rick Guerrero with the Denver County Sheriff's Office. "And then that's absolutely unacceptable. So, such a great blessing that we can allow these fees to be waived."
However, in many cities, crime victims are often re-victimized at the tow yard.
The City of Aurora contracts with M&M Impound & Towing to tow and impound stolen vehicles. City records show Aurora police impounded 3,472 stolen cars in 2021, and M&M Impound received $974,883.25 in fees from crime victims retrieving those cars.
"So to me, we were basically adding insult to injury," said Aurora City Councilmember Juan Marcano. "It really is, I think, criminal what we're doing to folks who are victims of motor vehicle theft."
The Aurora Police Department has long requested a city-owned lot.
"Frankly, a city of our size, it's kind of silly that we don't already have one in place," said Marcano.
Marcano put forth a resolution to create an eventually self-sustaining impound lot in Aurora that would waive fees for crime victims and charge more affordable fees in general. If the resolution passes, city staff would study other city-owned impound lots, find suitable locations and investigate costs in order to present a report within 6 months.
"In general, I think towing in the state of Colorado is exceptionally predatory," Marcano said. "They have no real incentive to properly notify people, because they make more money the longer they're able to delay. And frankly, the Public Utilities Commission, who oversees this industry, really needs to get it in gear and help the state legislature correct the status quo, because it's completely unacceptable to me."
Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here.