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Urban pirates may be eyeing your car

A report recently filed by the Albuquerque Journal and broadcast on KOBTV4 Friday detailed local police investigating attempts by unlicensed towing companies to sell illegally towed vehicles to recyclers in what amounts to nothing less than urban piracy.
Posted: April 23, 2011 - 9:02PM
Author: Don Bain


If you have reported a stolen car recently it is entirely possible it was picked up by an unlicensed tow truck company and sold for scrap, according to Albuquerque Police.

Lt. Harold Medina alerted KOB Eyewitness News 4 that the department is warning recycling yards around town to avoid doing business with illegitimate towing companies and see that all the cars taken in have proper paperwork.

Obviously, the tow company would need a backdoor arrangement with a recycler to make this into a going concern, but both would profit handsomely.

Maybe an hour or two of work for a profit of $300 for the tow driver and who knows what the recycler could make out of the deal. Unidentifiable parts could be sold as salvage and incriminating ones could be scrapped beyond recognition.

A quick search for the value of a drivable, intact 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis LS to a recycler produced a quick offer of $300. Of course, even a car this old is worth more, but it’s value in salvage and recycled materials is even greater.

Medina reported complaints from the public about tow companies dropping cars at scrap yards with no owner follow up. "This is just another means in which criminals are using to make money off of recyclable materials," he said.

Some cars sold for scrap can bring as much as $600 if not more.
In Albuquerque police with investigators from the Public Regulation Commission and Bernalillo County Sheriff's have visited recycling centers to deliver "administrative warnings" about incoming vehicles over the last three days.

In some cases, trucks have been found unlicensed and carrying cars without paperwork, during stops for moving violations.

Some recyclers keep their own lists of shady towing companies and refuse to accept vehicles from them.

"We're turning away approximately 200 cars a month," Sara Lightner of U-Pull & Pay said.

The Albuquerque Police have opened up seven investigations into illegal tow truck companies in a case still wide open.

A check with Tim Jackson of the Colorado Auto Dealers Association and Butch Montoya, a former Manager of Safety for Denver, revealed this is not yet happening here in Colorado.

Still, one thing the recent economic downturn revealed is the harder it is to make a respectable living, the more people will turn to other means. If there’s a way to separate you from your money, a lot of idle minds are raking insidious brains to find them.

When it comes right down to it, security is a behavior set, lifestyle choice and a state of mind. Be aware.