Impounded vehicles available

Luke Graham

Not all impounded vehicle sales are great deals, but every so often, people find an amazing bargain.

“I’ve seen some pretty nice vehicles go through,” Craig police Sgt. Bill Leonard said. “You never know what shows up down here. Every once in a while there is a guy who will come away with a good deal.”

The police department last year started selling impounded cars to the public.

The cars are abandoned vehicles that have not been claimed by owners or vehicles involved and cleared in criminal investigations that have not been claimed by owners.

Leonard said one man purchased a 1992 Oldsmobile for $201. The car probably was worth $2,800, he said.

Although Leonard said the man who purchased the ’92 Oldsmobile got a good deal, they usually don’t see cars worth a lot of money.

“We’re not going to see a top-of-the line car,” he said. “The salvage yards get most of the worst ones.”

The process of impounding cars is done as a public service to Craig.

“It’s certainly not a money-maker for the city,” records technician Terrianne Wheeler said. “It’s mostly added work for us; there is no profit.”

When a vehicle is abandoned, it is tagged with a notice that it must be moved within 72 hours. If after 72 hours it isn’t moved, the police department pays for it to be towed. A second notice is given to the owner telling them the car needs to be picked up within 30 days.

“If they still don’t claim it, we request the title,” Leonard said. “Surprisingly, some do have the title and do turn them over to us.”

If the owners still do not claim the car, it is put up for sale to the general public.

A two-week block is set aside for people to look at and inspect the vehicles. They can then submit a sealed bid to the police department.

Leonard said there are no minimum bids but that people whose bids of $200 or less are accepted only receive the salvage title.

People who have only the salvage title have to make the car road ready before they can apply for the actual car title.

People with winning bids of $201 or more receive the car title.

Often times, the cars for sale aren’t drivable, don’t have keys or have engine problems. These cars are usually sold to the junkyard for a very small price.

“They all go one way or another,” Wheeler said. “They are either sold to a buyer or the junkyard.”

Leonard said the department has made about $2,000 in 2005 from selling cars.

Since the city can keep only a portion of the profits from selling an impounded vehicle, the costs outweigh the profits.

Towing companies used to handle the sale of impounded cars, but because of the amount of paperwork that had to be filled out, they refused to continue doing it.

Now, the police department pays for the car to be towed to the impound lot.

When a car is sold, the city can keep $137 to cover the cost of the abandoned vehicle technician looking at the car, the cost of the tow bill and a storage fee.

Because the program is under Colorado Stature, any profits thigher than that have to go back to the state.

Even so, Wheeler said the department does it for benefit of the community.

“We do it to get abandoned vehicles off the street,” she said. “We try to make the town cleaner and nicer.”

For further information or to set an appointment to inspect the vehicles, call Wheeler at 826-2370 or Leonard at 826-2366.

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