If the phone number originally provided was disconnected at the time of recovery, the voicemail box was not set up, or it was full, or a phone number was not provided to police when the car was reported stolen, then police notification of recovery is mailed to the reportee's address. However, Tow companies will send written notice by certified mail to the name and address of the person who is the registered owner of the recovered vehicle after the third day. The tow company does not have access to any police report and police cannot legally provide victim information to any person, including a tow company. Therefore, the tow company only makes notification to the person or persons listed on the vehicle registration, which is the only information legally available to them.
There are several scenarios whereby your vehicle may be impounded after it is recovered:
1. If your vehicle is recovered by the Austin Police Department, it will be towed to Southside Wrecker for safekeeping, and you will be notified of its recovery as quickly as possible. Impound fees apply, and storage fees will accrue after the first 12 hours it is there.
a) Southside Wrecker is located at 8200 South Congress Avenue and holds the impound contract with the Austin Police Department. Their 24-hour phone number is 512-441-7094.
b) The State of Texas, not the Austin Police Department or Southside, sets tow company fee guidelines for vehicles impounded in connection with a crime.
c) If the impounded vehicle has an investigative hold placed on it, the vehicle owner is not responsible for the storage fee portion of the bill for the period of time period it was on hold.
d) Southside Wrecker's impound fee is $171.65 after tax, and this amount includes storage for the day it arrives. Storage fee for every day afterward is $20.00 per day.
e) If your vehicle is impounded between midnight and 2pm, the 2"d day storage fee begins at midnight. If your vehicle is impounded after 2pm, the 2"d day storage fee begins at Sam the following morning. Southside can provide you with the exact amount due when you call.
f) If your vehicle is recovered after hours, you may not be notified until the following morning, so there may be storage fee added to the amount of $171.65. The Auto Theft Unit makes notifications 7 days per week to best serve our victims, but we do not have 24-hour staffing.
g) Auto Theft detectives attempt to make recovery notification to the phone number originally provided. Please make sure this phone remains operational, and that phone's voicemail box is set up and has space available to receive a message when there is no answer.
h) If, after day three, notification cannot be made by phone, and the vehicle has not been picked up, Southside Wrecker is mandated by State regulations to send written notification to the owner and address listed on the vehicle registration. Notice must be sent by certified mail. Southside charges a $50.00 fee for certified mail notification.
i) If you are not the registered owner, but for all intents and purposes, the vehicle is yours, this can pose challenges when Southside mails notification, and when you try to retrieve the car. You must prove ownership. j) If you're not listed on the title and registration, you should call Southside at 512-441-7094 to determine forms of proof that must be provided to retrieve the vehicle. Each case is different.
k) Southside is entirely responsible for the decision to release a vehicle to a person, not the Austin Police Department. Our unit cannot influence the decision. Southside may, or may not release it to someone other than the registered owner. The registered owner on the title may decide to pick up the vehicle when notified, and if this occurs, you will have to resolve rightful possession and ownership directly with the registered owner. I) This requirement is in place for owner protection - and one reason why it is important if you are in such a situation now to transfer title and registration to your name, or at least have your name added to it as soon as possible in the future, to avoid costly delays and disputes over rightful ownership. You can take care of this at one of the local offices of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. For more information, visit their website: TXDMV.org. m) If your vehicle is recovered by another police agency, understand they may have different procedures, and will use a different tow company that may have a different fee structure. If you have questions about their impound or storage fees, you must to contact that police agency or the tow company they use.
2. If another police agency recovers your stolen vehicle, that agency will notify Austin Police Communications personnel of the recovery. Austin Police Communications personnel send our unit a list of all recovered stolen vehicles by the end of each 8-hour shift.
3. Our unit will attempt to contact the number originally provided once we receive the list. If your vehicle is on a list sent to our unit after 4pm, we will attempt notification the next morning.
4. If you wish to seek restitution for fees, damages, or losses, you have options:
a) Your vehicle insurance company may cover part, or all of the expense, depending on the terms of your coverage
b) You can file a claim for restitution in a civil court of law, such as small claims court.
c) If there is an arrest and prosecution for your auto theft, you may make a request to the prosecutor assigned to your case that restitution be included as part of the sentencing phase.
d) Restitution of fees, loss, and damages is civil in nature, and therefore not a matter in which police can be involved in any way. Police also cannot make persons to pay for damage, loss, or fees, nor can police enforce civil orders or judgments.