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Lawmaker wants to reintroduce bill to cover towing and impound fees for crime victims

College student can't afford to pay fines for stolen RV
Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 20:35:32-04

BOULDER, Colo. — A college student's stolen RV ended up racking up a big impound bill in Colorado after he says he wasn't notified it had been found. It's something one state representative hopes to fix with legislation in the next session.

Spencer Chan was living out of his 1979 Holiday Rambler. When he had to fly home for his grandfather's funeral, he parked his beloved RV near a friend's house.

When the friend contacted him to tell him the RV was no longer there, he immediately thought it had been towed. He soon discovered it was stolen.

“I felt pretty upset about it, and I was living in the RV. This was my home," Chan said.

Nearly all of his belongings were inside the RV, which was stolen in Flagstaff, Arizona. He filed a police report and waited to hear an update.

"I had pretty much given up any hope of finding it. The cops didn’t seem very interested in finding it ‚ it was a low priority," Chan said.

Just when he had given up hope, he received a letter in the mail saying the RV had been impounded and it was sitting in a tow yard in Boulder, Colorado. Chan says he drove to Colorado to pick up the RV, but he didn't realize the extent of the fines that had been piling up.

Contact Denver7 confirmed there was a delay, and Chan was not immediately notified that the vehicle was recovered.

"Probably two weeks before I found out from the tow company, so I never actually heard from police until I called them and said they found my RV. 'What’s going on? Why didn’t you tell me?'" said Chan.

A sergeant with the Flagstaff Police Department said there was a communication error. He explained that the dispatch center was notified when the vehicle was recovered, but the message was never relayed to patrol. He said due to the nature of the error, the city will pay the costs of the towing up until the point that Chan received proper notification.

"We could do this story every day with a different name and a different dollar amount and a different kind of car or something. This happens all the time," said Rep. Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial.

In fact, an Arapahoe County man also reached out to Contact Denver7 in July after he received an $800 impound bill to get back his stolen car.

Sullivan doesn't believe victims of a crime should be on the hook for expenses related to towing and impound fees. He previously introduced a bill that would have established a grant program to help crime victims facing fees related to a vehicle being impounded or towed. He said he plans to reintroduce similar legislation because he believes there's a great need.

"We already had the legislation already written up, so we’re taking a look to see if we have to revamp that, write it, do something different on it, but it all is coming down to like it was before: There has to be some money there," Sullivan said.

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