Impound fees accumulating for stolen, trashed car

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by By JESSE JONES / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 4:52 PM

Video: Impound fees accumulating for stolen, trashed car

Mark Spinks and his wife Karen have hundreds of reasons to be mad.

They must pay $295 for a tow and $95 a day in storage fees to get their daughter's stolen car out of Shannon's Towing in Lynnwood.

"The car was stolen, it was stripped, it was abandoned. The police had it towed, I understand that. The tow company should be compensated for their time and because it's taking up space in their lot. But these rates are outrageous," said Karen.

The 1996 Honda was stolen in February and found in a Bothell apartment complex two months later.

A Snohomish County Sheriff's deputy called the family, but they were out of town on vacation and he never left a message. His next call went to Shannon's Towing who towed and stored the car.

That was on May 1, a Friday, that's when the $95 a day charge began.

$380 later on Monday, May 4, Shannon's sent a letter to the Spinks that the car was at their lot.

The fees were still going up when the Spinks saw the letter on May 6.

"Well, five days had already gone by before I even received the letter, so the charges were already around $900," Karen explained.

The Spinks' auto insurance policy doesn't cover towing charges, so they're on the hook.

The people at Shannon's won't cut the Spinks a break.

Why would they? Shannon's followed the law by notifying the Spinks right after their car was impounded. The Spinks are, understandably, outraged.

"I think the laws need to be changed to recognize the fact that there's a difference between abandoning a car because you don't want to deal with it anymore and something that has been stolen and returned," said Mark.

Many agree with that, including Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, who just started an auto theft task force.

He says ending these high towing and storage rates for victims is his next priority.

"We've taken care of the first step by passing a good policy to address auto theft. Now I think we have to go the next step by trying to help the victims," he said.

Sheriff Lovick will have help from Representative Mike Sells from Everett. He wrote house bill 1962, which would force convicted car thieves to pay into a fund that victims could use to pay for tow charges.

The bill has not made it out of committee.

Spinks says that he will give the bill another shot in the next legislative session.

As for the Spinks, Mark lost his job. Karen's hanging on at Chase and their daughter has been hospitalized for weeks.

Just last week the family raised the cash to get their car out of impound. The total bill was $1400.

"We're double victims in this case and there's no recourse for us at all,"

Several lawmakers told us they realize how unfair this all is. They've pledged to get behind the bill, but it won't come up until next session in January.

If you have a consumer concern, send an e-mail to . Follow him on Twitter at .

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