ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In the last three months, 461 abandoned vehicles have been reported through the City of Albuquerque’s 311 App. All of those vehicles, plus cars the Albuquerque Police Department needs to be towed, all end up in the yards of one of the 24 towing companies part of APD’s Wrecker Rotation List.
“The mercury there is an abandoned car. The Mazda there is, the other white car is an abandoned. The expedition here is an abandoned car. The Nissan is an abandoned car,” said General Manager of Duggar’s Services, Jon Kellar.
Duggar’s Services just finished up their latest go-around on the rotation list. In six days, they towed 141 vehicles at the request of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Kellar says no one will come for “60 percent” of those vehicles.
“It’s really hard to say. They just don’t think the cars are worth the value, so they just don’t come get them and abandon them here,” said Kellar.
In Duggar’s lot, there are cars that have been sitting there since November 2016, December 2016, February, March and dozens more that were brought in during the last few months.
If no one comes for an abandoned vehicle, there is a process every towing company has to go through to get rid of the vehicle.
The towing company first has to send a certified letter to the owner of the vehicle, asking the owner to transfer the title to the tow company so they can sell the vehicle for scrap metal.
If no one responds to the certified letter, the company has to file for the rights of the car title which takes 45 days for in-state vehicles and 75 for out-of-state.
“We never hear from them. We send certified letters and they either don’t respond to them, or, they just send them back because they don’t want nothing to do with it,” said Kellar.
Kellar says that process is especially complicated for vehicles that have their VIN numbers scratched out. He also says the process is getting more difficult in general.
“With all the car thieves, it made the car’s paperwork a lot harder now too because we have to go through more and more steps. They’re afraid there are more stolen cars or other tow companies could be using this as a front for stolen cars so it makes it even harder for us to get rid of them,” said Kellar.
Kellar says at any given time, the lot at Duggar’s is more than half-way full. During police rotations, he says they clear out as many cars as they can beforehand to avoid hitting capacity.
“It definitely does make our jobs harder because we have to pack them on top of each other,” said Kellar.
This problem is also costing Duggar’s thousands of dollars.
Kellar says the cost to tow these cars and complete the appropriate paperwork to sell them, is far more than what they get when they eventually sell the vehicles for scrap metal.
KRQE News 13 asked APD what could be done about the growing number of abandoned vehicles filling up car lots and if they had a solution to help some of the tow companies near capacity.
APD PIO Tanner Tixier said in an e-mail:
“I’m not going to speculate on why there are so many abandoned vehicles or attempt to solve the issue. I can say that we rely exclusively on tow companies, as APD doesn’t have our own tow unit.”
Tixier also explained APD’s part in the process saying:
“The process is simple. If an officer or PSA is dispatched to an apparent abandoned vehicle or locates one on their own accord, we orange tag it. The owner has seven days to move their vehicles after being orange tagged, or they are towed. At that point, the tow company will begin trying to make contact with the owners of the vehicle to let them know they have possession of the vehicle.”
Kellar says right now, the company is trying to figure out how to solve this problem on their own because they want to keep helping the city.
“I think we’ll want to stay on the service because we want to help the city,” said Kellar.
Kellar says part of this problem would go away if people who no longer want their vehicles hand over their titles to the tow company. That way, the long waiting process and much of the paperwork would no longer be necessary.