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Personal property in towed vehicles


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A Tow411 Topic which began in 2008:


Sara Said:

Hi Everyone
I'm working on changing the law in Nebraska so that the tow and storage lien includes personal property in towed vehicles. Of course, we would release anything that is medically necessary, children's car seats, keys, purses, etc. From everyone that I have spoken to, the rate that vehicles are picked up has gone up dramatically once they hold personal property for payment of tow and storage fees. I would appreciate any info, from any state about how your laws work.


unknown member said:

California, We have no lien on personal property. Must release property to owner. We don't have to release anything installed or attached to the vehicle (ie.Stereo in dash, speakers, amps, etc.) Unless they are sitting in the car, not yet installed.


Unknown member said:

As far as I know, Michigan does not address it at a state level. Specific municipalities may, but none in my service area.

In most cases, we do not allow anything to be removed, unless prescriptions. But, PD will take these things at time of impound, so we hardly ever cross that bridge.

The most common thing they come after is tools. They do tend to bail their car out if there is anything of value that is worth more than the towing and storage charges.

We will release some things if the value of the car is higher. Sometimes we don't want them to bail them out! LOL!


Cotton said:

Before it was required that we release personal items, there was a guy that was picked up for DUI. When he got out the next day, he went to the tow company and tried to retrieve his tools so that he could go to work. The towing company refused to release his tools. The guy ended up losing his job and sued the tow company. He won.
Now we have to release anything that is not attached to the vehicle. The only thing they can take that is attached is the license plate.


In memory of General Tow who said:

Arkansas has a very good law covering this. Last session our Attorney General worked with our association to accomplish this. Our law gives us a first priority possessory lien against the vehicle, its contents, and also any trailer attached to the vehicle and the contents of the trailer including but not limited to other vehicles and boats. The only items required to be released are personal or legal documents, medications, child restraints, wallets or purses, prescription eyeglasses, prosthetics, cell phones, photographs and books. If this will help I can fax you a copy of the complete law. It is very specific and protects the towing company very well. This also covers heavy trucks and their trailers and cargo which is a big plus for the heavy operators. Steve


wreckerman05 said:

in north carolina you cant hold personal property items--anything not related to vehicle-dont have to release stereos,radios,etc---also some towers have had the problem with cargo releases in big accidents, had to release cargo-i know of one who would not release cargo until bill paid-well ncshp got involved and he was taken off rotation for not releasing when they called to advise him he could not hold cargo--this has been several years and he still doesnt do shp work--everyone knows if no insurance involved and a junker we usually get stuck with the junk and bill unpaid--have to go thru the dmv process to get rid if junk


Jerrys Garage said:

Here in Tennessee we loose, they can get everything except what is attached to the vehicle. I am working on a Bill much like what Steve has over in the Ozarks. I have been told that it was a waste of time trying to get a Bill like this passed. But guess what I already have some pretty fair support to git-r-dun.


DennisMHDT said:

We have no authority to hold personal property in the great state of new york. It is also part of rotation and franchise contracts that we must release any personal property not connected to the car. i can not even force a person to leave the key to their vehicle.

Which basically means that any car older then a 1999, especially on rotation calls from Brooklyn, once they come and clean out their belongings, we have a new flower pot.



Michael McGovern r52_1559570274.gif said:

I'm confused. You say you are trying to change the law in Nebraska, but your profile says you are from Knoxville, Tennessee. Anyway, e-mail me at [url=mailto:michael@themcgovernlawfirm.com]michael@themcgovernlawfirm.com[/url] and I will send you some information on the topic.

Michael McGovern
The McGovern Law Firm
Knoxville, Tennessee

Representing towing companies for over 30 years


danielswt said:

kansas statute # 8-1103 is what we have working for us.

http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/statute/ here is a link to the website, type in the statute number and there you go.


Update: 2018 statute http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/statute/008_000_0000_chapter/008_011_0000_article/008_011_0003_section/008_011_0003_k/

and also i just found yesterday the statute that shows that we are not responsible for towing off abandoned vehicles ( on public road's and such ) like we are being told to do by law enforcement. so now, if it's an abandoned car and the law enforcement calls to tow it off. " where would you like me to tow it to and please sign here "





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  • 1 year later...
Guest Ami Jo

I was in an accident on a Tuesday night and went to retrieve my belongings out of my car that was towed to the police impound on Thursday several items were missing several valuable items such as watches phones Exedra what can I do about this if these things were stolen they were there and I was there until the car was towed away I watched it get put on the flatbed so it was between the tow truck driver and the impound lot what do I do

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Different states / counties have different laws. Here most Officers will do a visual inventory of a vehicles contents ( meaning if it can be seen looking through the window or open door they will notate it in their inventory list / report ) before a tow operator takes a wrecked vehicle to their yard. If that is not the case in your situation It will more than likely become a case of he said-she said between you and the tow company. I m not saying All tow operators are honest. There are some dirtbags, But there are also some dirtbag vehicle owners who always claim they had " $1,500 cash or a gold rolex ETC... "in their car thats now conveinently missing because their car was towed away or a non consenual tow was done from a crash. Now keep in mind, The burden of proof lies with you in proving those items were in the vehicle if you decide to go to court over this. Good luck to you. 


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