Victim Gets Nothing After Police Sell His Stolen Car

Denver Police: It Was A Miscommunication

The CALL7 Investigators have learned that the Denver Police Department recovered a stolen car, only to allow it to be sold at auction before the victim could claim it. The city made $4,000 and the victim got nothing.

"There wasn't plates on the car. It was going from my name to my fiancé’s name. I had just moved to the state and so there was a title. Everything got stolen from the car. All the paperwork, everything," explained Trevor Burke.

It was Burke's 2000 Audi A6 that was stolen from a Denver parking garage in December. Because he was transferring ownership to his fiancé, Burke had let the insurance lapse and had all the appropriate ownership paperwork in the car.

Burke told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia that the car was stolen with the registration and title inside.

According to police records, surveillance video from the parking garage showed the car being stolen, but the video quality was too poor to identify the thief.

Burke had basically given up on the car when he was contacted by Denver police on March 11, saying they'd found it.

"They said there was DNA, fingerprints all over the vehicle," explained Burke.

He said Denver police asked if they could hold onto the car to process it for evidence.

"We told them, 'Yeah, go ahead,'" Burke said.

City records show Denver Police did hold the car for five business days, which is not usual, and the notes specifically read, "For DNA and Prints."

In fact, the CALL7 investigation found Denver police never processed the car for prints or DNA, so it was turned over the city impound.

Burke was notified he could pick it up, but couldn't get the car from the lot because he had to have the title.

"I had to apply for the new title out of New Hampshire," said Burke.

"[Denver Police] knew this?" asked Ferrugia.

"They knew this. I was in contact with the detectives, the impound lot, I took all the proper procedures to make sure they didn't sell my car," said Burke.

City records show Burke called the impound lot on April 5, asking for the car's VIN number so he could apply for the title. The log notes read, "Told him to speak with Detective to get VIN# to apply for title."

Burke said it took several weeks for the detective to return his phone call.

"The guy in charge of the case, I probably called him 10 times without a return phone call," said Burke.

On April 26, city records read, "vehicle info checked on this date" and three days later, "Trevor called, he's waiting for title in the mail."

"I got the title and I called and said, 'I have the title so I'll be coming to get the car,' and the detective was supposed to fax the paperwork over saying I could get the car without paying the [storage] fees since I was the victim. He didn't fax the paperwork so they went ahead and sold the vehicle," said Burke.

His Audi A6 was auctioned on May 12.

"How much did it cost?" Ferrugia asked the new owner, Edgar Moreno.

"The car cost $4000," Moreno said.

His family bought the car at auction for half the blue book value had it been in good condition. The car did require some repairs, but Moreno admits his family got a deal.

"We believe that somewhere along the process there was a disconnect between the detective, the sheriff's department and the victim in terms of communicating with one another," said Denver Police Detective John White.

White also works as a public information officer and was not specifically involved in Trevor Burke's case. 7NEWS requested interviews with those directly involved and we were denied.

Even so, White told 7NEWS this was an unfortunate incident and that police believe Burke shares in the responsibility.

"I think the victim does have a part to play in this, yes," said White.

He did not elaborate.

White also did not know that city records indicate that Denver Police fumbled the investigation, making a legal error that prevented prosecution of the suspect.

"I feel victimized by not only the police but the person who stole the car," said Burke.

The Denver Police Department has begun an inquiry into what happened in this case and the city attorney’s office is involved. A city lawyer contacted Burke about filing a claim for his losses.

One more note, Burke had requested city records for his case so he could have a complete understanding as to what happened.

The manager of safety's office charged him $19 for the records of his own case.

If you've had a similar situation occur please contact the CALL7 Investigators by clicking on either of the bylines above.