DENVER — In Colorado, if your car is stolen and found, you could be on the hook for hundreds — or thousands — of dollars to get it out of impound. A new push to solve the problem is hitting some roadblocks.
Kicked while they are down, crime victims continue to reach out to Contact Denver7 after their cars are stolen and they are hit with impound charges. State Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, knows the feeling.
"Yes, I'm a victim of auto theft. Many of my neighbors have been. I've talked to many, many people who have been victims of auto theft," said Fields, who is co-sponsoring a bill that would require towing operators to not charge crime victims. Instead, a statewide fund would reimburse tow companies for their costs.
"The bottom line is if your car is stolen, and it's no fault of your own, you shouldn't have to also pay for these extensive fees that are associated," Fields continued.
In some cities, you don't have to pay fees. In Denver and Colorado Springs, crime victims' fees are waived at city-owned impound lots.
But year after year, efforts to set up a statewide fund for crime victims towing costs have fallen short.
"So we're gonna go back to the drawing board," said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, the bill's other co-sponsor.
She thought they had found a way to fund the bill by charging tow operators a fee for every tow, but the fiscal note showed it would still cost the state more than $1.2 million next fiscal year.
This week's hearing had to be canceled as lawmakers regroup, but the fight isn't over.
The bill would also add new protections for crime victims, such as better notification requirements if your car is found and a statewide database you could check. Those improvements would not be as expensive and could still save people money, said Froelich.
"I think we have some. We just have to get some really sharp pencils in the room at the same time because there is pretty widespread feeling that this is not right," said Froelich. "It's an injustice, and we need to do need to bring relief to crime victims when they turn up at an impound lot."
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