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Baltimore waives towing fees for car theft victims

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Charm TV
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott speaks at a Thursday news conference, where he announced that towing fees for victims of auto theft will be waived.

Baltimore will no longer charge car theft victims towing fees when they recover their vehicles, Mayor Brandon Scott announced Thursday.

Stolen cars are often recovered when they’re left in public rights of way and towed by the city. The fees range from $130 to $140, depending on where a vehicle is recovered, and owners must pay Baltimore before they can recover their cars from the city’s impound lot. The fee is generally not covered by car insurance. The tolling fees of stolen vehicles are nearly $250,000 a year, Scott said at a news conference.

“We are picking up this tab because it's the right thing to do,” he said. “Plainly put, $130 is a lot of money to someone who's already down on their luck. Removing barriers for victims is a common sense thing that we hope everyone will agree with.”

The Democrat said he was inspired to make the change by lobbying from Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who recalled a constituent whose car was stolen. It was recovered a day later and had racked up a dozen city tickets.

The resident asked the city Department of Finance to waive the tickets and was told he needed to provide a $10 police report. Dorsey said he asked the police department, “‘Why are we charging victims to get a copy of a police report just so that they can hand it back over to city government in order to have a city fine waived?’ ”

He said that fee will now be waived as well.

“I'm really thankful for the partnership to understand the perspective of the victims and people in the city who are struggling for a wide variety of reasons,” the Democrat said. “This is a collaborative effort to say that we have simple policy changes that can improve the quality of life for people that we can make without hesitation.”

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.