Monday, July 24, 2006

The City Stole My Car!

You wake up on a Saturday morning and want nothing more than to spend the day tending vegetables in the fresh air. But what happens when you go outside and find your car missing? Do you call the police and report it stolen? More often then not you end up calling the police, but not because it was stolen. You see, the DC Department of Public Works is steadfast in its commitment to keeping city streets clean. Just check out the average street in Columbia Heights, Shaw or Brookland. Those syringes, condoms and broken bottles of Mad Dog 20/20? Well, yeah, they litter the street. But the DC Department of Public Works is HOT ON THE CASE! That’s why you can’t park your car on the street on any number of days. Just read the signs! Street Cleaning! Monday and Thursday! Tuesday and Friday! Monday through Sunday (if you’re in Georgetown)!

On Monday, Mandie parked her car on the Tuesday side of the street. Then she forgot to move it. She got a ticket for 30 dollars. When she logged online to pay off the ticket, there was no mention of her car having been towed. But when we walked over to where she parked the car on 15th Street, surprise surprise…no car! Before panicking, Mandie called up the DC Police non-emergency number to find out if they towed her car. The first charming police officer she spoke to said they "moved" her car to the 2300 block of 16th street. Mandie understandably seemed puzzled by this, as 16th street is a main commuter route. If they had towed her car on a Tuesday, it couldn't possibly still be there. But yes, it was there! The officer insisted!

So, we walked down the block in the sweltering DC heat. Of course, no car. Mandie called back. She spoke to another officer, for an even longer period of time. They said her car was on the 2300 block of 16th. Mandie tried to explain that if they HAD moved her car there on Tuesday, it would have HAD to have been towed again, as they tow cars off of 16th street every day at 7:30am and 4:30 pm before rush hour. But no, the officer insisted that they only "moved" her car once. If it's not there, it must have been stolen. And no, they couldn't file a stolen vehicle report over the phone. We would have to walk over to the precinct station on V Street.

This didn't make sense. No one would steal a car equipped with THE CLUB off of 16th street between 7:30 and 4:30 on a weekday. Only an idiot would attempt such a thing. Why not walk a block over where there aren't three dozen witnesses driving by every minute?

We walked home. We needed to regroup. After some thought, Mandie called up the DC Department of Towing and Impoundment. She spoke to Sara, our new personal hero. Sara said our car was moved to the 2300 block of 16th. Mandie explained that it wasn't there. Sara put Mandie on hold for a minute, then came back and explained her car was on Belmont Street. Mandie asked why the Police told her otherwise. Sara laughed and said they probably hadn't even bothered to check if the car had been towed again. It seems this is a common problem.

To sum this up, the DC Police Department would rather have its citizens file stolen vehicle reports than actually check their towing records. Still surprised they can't solve murders?

Best yet, when we eventually found the car, it had two parking tickets on it, including a $100 dollar ticket because they had to tow our car after towing it into an illegal zone.

I love DC!


Anonymous mandie said...

It was my car that was stolen by the District of Columbia. A few important notes:

1. Logan changed the name of "Sara" from the impound lot. It was nice of him to think to protect her job (for bad-mouthing the non-emergency cops) but he forgot to tell you he changed her name, so if there is a Sara at the impound lot, she just got screwed.

2. The second officer I spoke with SWORE "Towing Control Dispatch Center” would be unreachable until Monday. So I called Sunday when I got home, and they un-stole my car.

3. This is the second time in the last month my car has been “moved”. (Not towed, so I really don’t know how they move it, maybe levitation is involved. I certainly hope so.) The first time it was moved for no apparent reason. No, really. There was no ticket. There was no note. There was no street cleaning day. It was “moved” only 3 blocks up. There was a pink towing form on the windshield – but it was blank.

I heart DC. I can’t wait to get my DC flag tattoo.

Instead of 3 stars, I’m going to get 3 tow trucks.

11:37 PM  
Blogger KOB said...

Great post. It's really not worth owning a car in the city.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Moxie said...

I love the tow truck tattoo idea, too funny.

Same thing happened to me (well, it's happened tons of times) the three most recent - twice I was towed to illegal spots and towed again. the third time, I was in a legal residential spot, and it was just gone aka "not in their system" for 10 days, after which I filed a stolen car report. The officer investigating the stolen car report found it was towed to Blue Plaines impound lot for 2 outstanding tickets. I called there everyday and they said they didn't have it. But, another great use of resources, the police office on my case had to find it. I swore I paid those tickets... which I did. When I got to Blue Plaines, they said no outstanding tickets. And, "sorry about the mistake" sorry ~pfft! And, "just pay the $150 impoud fee and we'll call it even".

That was after I had to pay $50 (extortion) fare to a cab driver becuase the first 5 cabs who stopped to take me to Blue Plaines, said they won't go to lower S.E. Don't even get me started on the DC Cabs ~!! I heart DC too. It's like living in a communist country right here at home. ahhh

I love and hate your post ~ you just got me all fired up and angry all over again. ;-)

8:24 AM  
Blogger Capt. Jack Sparrow said...

Oh, my God, I would have had a heart attack. Glad you found your car and is okay.

This is why I now live in Silver Spring. D.C. just drove me nuts. Why pay taxes that will be spent on aggravating me back?

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love DC. The same has happened to me before. DC parking police will happily ticket and tow you whenever your car might find itself in an illegal spot, what I believe is horrible is that the few times I have been towed, they have always towed my car to yet another illegal parking space.

2:54 PM  
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Anonymous Amy Hoskins said...

This was a great story. Similar thing happened to my roommate. She had five outstanding parking tickets and the city of Providence towed her car. This happened 8 months ago and she never went to pay it off. Yeah... I'm pretty sure the city owns her car now haha. And I still tease her about it to this day.

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7:52 PM  
Anonymous Isabella Pospisil said...

Ouch! That's sad to hear. But it's good to see that you were able to get your car back. And yes, hooray for Sara for telling you where the car is located.

11:38 AM  

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