Echo Park woman gets her car back but she is not ready to celebrate

Photo courtesy of car owner

About two weeks after her red Kia was stolen, Veronica from Echo Park was notified a few days ago that  the sedan with a Chicano Batman sticker in the rear window had been found on Alvarado Street north of Sunset Boulevard only a block away from where it was stolen outside her apartment.  She paid $331.81 to get  the Kia out of the impound yard.  The car sustained only minor damage but Veronica remains  upset about the theft and annoyed that police don’t seem to be doing anything about a recent rise in car thefts and burglaries in her part of Echo Park west of Alvarado:

This area is getting really crazy regarding home burglaries and car thefts … I have a feeling whoever took my car was most likely living on the same street as me. LAPD does not car about our possessions but I do – this ordeal has been all of that – an ordeal. I think it needs to be known that my area since the beginning of July has seen a rise in car thefts and LAPD ain’t doing a damn thing about it.

LAPD Senior Lead Officer Al Polehonki looked into the matter and and found reports of one burglary, two vehicle break-ins, and two vehicle thefts in the area between Glendale Boulevard and Benton Way between Aug. 14 and Sept. 10. That does not seem like much crime. But Polehonki found clusters of vehicle thefts and break-ins nearby.

Polehonki, citing recent crime statistics for Echo Park and nearby Silver Lake said:

The most distinct patterns of activity are in the neighborhoods near the end of the Glendale Freeway on either side of Glendale Boulevard, with 10 Vehicle Burglaries. The other is in the area of Berkeley Ave and Silver Lake Blvd, with 6 Vehicle Burglaries. The majority of them occurred during the late night, early morning hours.

While we do use a variety of strategies to target these “Clusters of activity”, our greatest difficulty remains in the fact that items are being left visible inside these vehicles.

Kind of like, “If you leave it, they will come and take it”.

While grand theft auto is not as frequent, late model Hondas and Toyotas are still the most common vehicle stolen, Polehonki said.  He recommends that car owners who don’t have anti-theft device invest $11 in a car lock.

Veronica says she has already taken extra  steps to protect her car:

The extra security precautions are, I MOVED! Yep I left Echo Park for a more serene way of life.

No comments

  1. Dang, they make you pay the impound fees for your own car when it’s stolen?! That’s fucking ridiculous! I know a lot of people who don’t even have that kind of money on hand. Talk about getting it twice, jeez.

  2. I second Lauren – that is seriously messed up. Living here, I accept the possibility of car theft, but I have a very hard time with the apparent fact that you have to pay impound fees to retrieve your own stolen vehicle. Is this really true?

  3. Yep. Been there, done that (about 20 years ago, stolen on the west side and located near MacArthur Park). Car was trashed, I seem to recall paying about $400 in impound fees – and it goes up per day if you can’t get there right away to retrieve it.

  4. The impound fees have been criminal for decades. And note, they probably recovered that car within a day of the report, they they hold it and let the daily impound storage fees increase for two weeks before they bother to let you know. That is the routine. Sometime is is much more than two weeks before they let you know –and you have to pay for the storage for all that time.

    As in this case, the biggest crooks in the theft turn out to the the city and its system of towing and impounding. Yes, too many people end up losing their car to the impound fees, not the thief who stole it! A friend of mine just lost his car that way, did not have enough for the impound fees to get it back.

    There is no excuse for the car owner not to be notified by phone same day it is found.

    Another friend of mine a few years back had his car stolen. He reported it to LA police. He also got another friend to drive around looking for it, and he ended up finding it himself several blocks away. But he had been told to call police if he did, so he did so. They towed it, and he could not get it back for a couple weeks — and pay all those fees! Hey, if you find you car yourself, do NOT call the police. Take it yourself, or you will be fleeced even more than you already have been.

  5. I used to live at Clinton and Belmont (above the lake) a year ago . My 13 year old Volvo wagon was stolen from the street next to my driveway and found 2 months later completely stripped of all its wheels and parts inside and out -abandoned in an alley on Union downtown with a Honda in similar condition. That area is super sketchy in Echo Park… a real bummer. Plenty of other shady activity always seemed to be going on over there. Since moving north of Sunset, things are bit better. Be careful ya’ll!

  6. Vehicle has to be remove from the stolen vehicle system as soon as it’s recovered. Also if you don’t answer your phone when your car is recovered then the tow yard will impound it.

  7. Veronica as your neighbor ( I live one block from you) I am sorry for your troubles and worried they might be mine…Last year a friend of mine got her Audi stolen from her driveway in Echo Park. When the car was discovered 4 months later it was by a drunk driver who was pulled over. when they realized he was in possession of a stolen car he said he borrowed the car from a stranger at a party. The car was impounded. She paid the cost. And when she finally got the car the trunk was full of clothes and other identifying belongings of the theif the police shrugged and said they didn’t have the time to investigate. She got her car back paid the fines and threw the clothes away. What is wrong here? The victim pays.

  8. One of the biggest problem with tracking crime stats is a lot of folks do not report break ins to their cars and homes. So, the stats do not reflect the high amount of car break ins. A neighbor recently had their car window broken to take their GPS. They did not file a police report, ( some lame excuse about their insurance company said it would affect their rates??). Anyway, they did not report it, and therefore there are no break ins on our street.

    So, although it is a time drain, you should always take the time to file a police report, if you want your area to show up on the radar of LAPD for extra patrol.


  9. For all you car theft victims out there, I recommend calling LAPD constantly for updates; they put little to no effort informing you if your vehicle has been recovered. I pretty much gave up hope when I received a letter in the mail stating my stolen accord would be auctioned off the next day by an impound yard unless I came in to claim it. Apparently, it had been sitting there for three weeks. I called LAPD asking why I hadn’t been notified, and they said they tried calling my phone, which automatically goes to voice mail like everyone elses, several times but nobody answered. Right. Cost me $85o to retrieve. Still unhappy after all these years…

  10. @defector 3- they should of left a voicemail, that’s sad they didn’t.

  11. why don’t the victims of the impound system get together and file a lawsuit against the city or police department. we are paying taxes for them to protect us and our property, not rape the bank accounts of the innocent. people need to fight back and protest a bit instead of just complaining about the injustice on the internet.

  12. our car got stolen a few months ago and although we had to go through a sea of red tape, we didn’t have to pay the impound fee’s. I would fight that if I were the car owner. that said: it was a nightmare.

  13. It is a horrible feeling to have property stolen, especially a high-value item such as a vehicle. I can’t fix that, but maybe this information will help all understand the process a little better.

    When a stolen vehicle is recovered, officers generally have the vehicle impounded at an authorized tow yard.  If the victim lives locally, officers may release the vehicle to them if they answer their telephone and immediately respond to pick up their vehicle. Otherwise, the officers will mail notification of the recovery to the registered owner AND the legal owner (bank).

    The tow yard’s impound and storage fees are agreed upon with the city. The fees are covered by auto insurance if full coverage is in place.

    If you or a friend locate the stolen vehicle, DO NOT drive it away yourself. You may be spotted by police, who will conduct a high-risk stop (helicopter, proned out on the pavement at gunpoint) before moving the investigation forward. The best thing is to call your police agency’s non-emergency dispatch and state that you have located your stolen vehicle and will stand by until police arrive. This will create a priority call that will have you safely on your way in the least amount of time.

    Residents should also attempt to thwart crime by not leaving valuables in plain view in unattended vehicles. Use of Club-like devices can be an effective deterrent to auto theft; they can be purchased inexpensively at LAPD’s Northeast and, I believe, Rampart stations during business hours.

    If you are a victim of a crime, reporting it does help your local police entity understand where the crime is occurring, which may affect police resources. The local captain won’t change anything if he/she is not aware of the problem. Also, when police arrest the criminals, do cooperate with the investigation and testify in court. Otherwise these criminals cut light sentences or are just kicked free for “minor property crimes” when we all know what a nuisance their criminal behavior is.

  14. To people complaining about paying the impound fee: think it through. Your car gets swiped, LAPD finds it somewhere, what are they going to do? Phone you and tell you where to get it? Bad idea: maybe it’s right outside the thief’s house, maybe it’s still being used by the thief, maybe it’s not locked any more, etc., etc.

    So, it has to be towed away to a safe place. Who pays for that, them or you? Obviously, you, because it’s your car. It’s just another cost of owning a car, one of those not so fun things like car insurance, repairs, gas, property taxes, etc.

  15. Welcome to LA. I have come to believe that just about everyone living in LA, either has their car stolen, broken into, tires wrecked, car vandalized at some point when living in this city. It is not just Echo Park. I know people on the Westside, Los Feliz, Hollywood…..etc.. that have had their cars stolen.
    Sorry to hear of your plight.
    Sounds like nothing has changed. This has been an ongoing problem for over 30 yrs- in my personal experience. I had the same repeated car theft problems starting back in the 1980s.
    I lived near to GLENDALE BLVD and Fletcher near to the 2 FWY and the 5 fwy. I had a 65 Chevy at the time, it was constantly being stripped and/or hot wired. At that time, when I called the police, they basically told me unless a person was harmed that it was a low priority for them. Their advice was to go out and find the car myself.
    Fact: The police discouraged me from making a report.
    After the first thefts, when I had to pay the expensive impound fees on a lot on GLENDALE BLVD. I did just that. I would get a friend to drive me within 2 -5 miles several times a week and each time did find my car. It made me so angry and paranoid, even the club did not stop them. once I found it in pieces on the front seat. ( I think that the club will deter if the thief is in a hurry or is not experienced.)
    Note: Cars are easier to locate on trash pickup days. The abandoned car cannot be missed and shortly after that will be towed.
    The police told me that thieves just need a transportation car to get them somewhere and then they abandon the car. I think that it was true. In my case they also took parts off my car.
    When I lived near to Hollywood Blvd & Vermont Ave, bums used to break into my car to sleep. This was evidenced by funky smelling blankets that they left, cigarette butts and even a bottle of cheap gin!
    More recently my neighbor had her old Toyota stolen in the Atwater area, again blocks from GLENDALE BLVD near to the 5 freeway. She was lucky , the person whose house it was abandoned in front of, found her ID inside and called her before it was towed away. It was close by, on the other side of GLENDALE BLVD.
    I have often wondered about the towing yards, they make a good profit. Back in the 80s, there were news stories about some of those places being underhanded and were stripping off parts while the car was in their impound lot. Who knows? Also how convenient when the cars are abandoned in the same neighborhood of the towing yards? Maybe that has changed and gotten better.
    I guess I have become a cynic.
    If you live in LA, expect something to happen to your car at some point.
    I hope I am wrong. But things still sound the same.

  16. Northeast CU and others talking about getting a phone call: If they are now making such a call, that is a newer policy than when my friend’s car was stolen. HE found the car on the street, and called the police. He was on the scene, they came, and they insisted it had to be towed anyway. They did NOT allow him to take it himself. And he could not reclaim it immediately either. All that was stripped from it was the shell on the back of the truck bed (it was a pickup truck), he could have driven it home.

    Also, I agree with the comment about us already paying taxes for these police services, so what is the fee about, and such an excessive one at that. But if you think that is bad, we are already paying plenty of taxes for the fire department, too, and the paramedic ambulance service it provides — yet if you need an ambulance some day, the city is going to bill you $1,200 for that ambulance service! Why!? Do you want people to risk their lives and not call because they fear such a huge charge?!

  17. Chicano Batman!!
    She listens to some good tunes.

  18. What this really comes down to is, how the hell are the tow yards able to justify such a cost for a city-contracted service?? I mean, if they were a business charging those rates with the agreement of the customer that would be one thing, but the rates seems grossly inflated.

    Several years ago my car was parked on Sunset and towed due to a triathlon (there was ONE no parking sign on the whole block, btw). Even though I contacted the tow yard just hours after it was taken, and even though only a few miles from my house, the fee was $175. That is unconscionable. There is no WAY that it costs that much, and neither the city nor the tow yard should be making a profit off of something like that.

  19. Count yourself lucky, Lauren! Early this year, I parked my car on Sunset (near Kaiser), not realizing it was a new ‘no parking 4-6pm/ anti gridlock zone’. I came out at 4:04pm, to put more money in the meter, and saw the tow truck loading my car! I had to beg the guy to release it, and it cost me $224.50, PLUS $157 for the parking ticket. I sure learned a lesson, albeit an expensive one……$381 !! I did ‘pay it forward’ by forewarning a woman who was ready to park in my space as I pulled away. I saved her a ticket/tow.

    Soooo…….I went and had a yummy Unami Burger & a beer! Made me feel a little better.

  20. You missed the whole point. If you actually read what post after post is saying. The point is that the victims of auto theft are NOT being contacted by the LAPD or the impound yards in a timely matter and as a result of that are being charged unnecessary fees that could have been avoided.

  21. @Hey Grow Up, law enforcement agencies impounding a vehicle mail notifications to the registered owner and the legal owner within 1 business day. The officers literally place the carbonless CHP form copies into the envelope before their end of watch. So long as people keep the DMV updated on their current address, their notification will arrive without delay.

    Telephone notifications on recovered stolen vehicles are considered a courtesy, but it is a common practice. Officers may choose not to call if it is very late, the registered owner is far away, etc. Also, the vehicle may have been flagged for impound hold because it was used in a crime, hit and run, etc., and cannot be released directly to the owner without agency release.

    I’ve experienced LA’s zealous DOT work personally but am fortunate to have avoided my personal vehicles being impounded. Sympathy to those who have been stung!

  22. Car theft sucks. I agree with Ellegardens… it happens everywhere. I had my bicycle stolen in Beachwood Canyon, my car broken into in Hancock Park… Surprisingly, I’ve been lucky in Echo Park- I have gated parking, but even where I work on the West Side, near Bev Hills, there are constant warnings from the police to hide valuables because people’s cars are getting broken into all the time. It sucks.

    I do agree that it is lame that she had to pay the impound fees though. Not cool.

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