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The Bright Side of Having Your Car Stolen

Stolen Car

photo by footloosiety@flickr

Dear Parking Guru,
 
I am new to SF, so not up to speed with all of the rules, regulations, and inside info. After my recent experience this weekend, I was pointed promptly in your direction by a buddy of mine and I'm hoping you can help. Here is my situation:
 
My car got stolen Friday night, I filed a report Saturday morning and retrieved a voicemail upon waking up Sunday morning that they found my car around Dolores Park and I need to pick up my car. Here's the twist. The call came at 4 am and because I did not pick up, they towed my car, and now I have to pay $600 to pick it up!! That makes no logical sense to me whatsoever. If I get my car stolen, they tow it and then I have to pay the fees?! They mentioned that I signed something when I filed a police report indicating that they can tow the car. The issue is, I did not have an opportunity to pick it up because the call was at 4 am and obviously I was not up at the time.
 
Is there anything I can do?
Newbie

 
 
Dear Newbie,
 
Welcome to SF.  Not up at 4 am?  You haven’t heard of The EndUp yet, have you? The standard initiation of all newcomers with wheels is getting their car towed. Most people think, at first, that their car was stolen, but it was just towed because it was parked illegally. You got the bonus hazing package of actually having it stolen and towed that 6,000 other San Franciscans have to go through each year.
 
Don't worry. Here’s what to do: You need to call the tow hearing desk at (415) 701-5402 within 10 days and tell them you need to set up an emergency tow hearing. I checked out your situation and I have reliable inside info that you will more than likely be given a break. Your total bill was $453.75, plus the parking ticket that is probably still on your windshield. However, being a resident of SF, and your vehicle being involved in a crime, the City will waive the $243 administrative fee that the City collects for each towed vehicle. The bad news is that the driver who towed your vehicle at 4 am has to get paid for retrieving your car, so you will probably have to pay the $210.75 towing charge. It's a drag, but let me help to shift your perspective on this.
 
This is perhaps the only time that being parked illegally and towed is actually a blessing. It was because you were parked illegally and towed that your stolen vehicle was recovered. Less parking-conscious thieves rarely pay attention to street sweeping signs when parking the getaway car. When all cars are ticketed, the DPT officer enters the license plate into a database checking for multiple ticket offenses and stolen vehicles. When your ticket was issued, your vehicle popped up as stolen, the police were immediately informed, and you, in turn, were quickly informed. My perspective of the situation is that your car was stolen and you got it back within 24 hours. And, it only cost you $200.  I would count my blessings, Mr. Newbie.
 
Now, about the ticket that you received… here is the cherry on top. Send a copy of the ticket in to the protest department on the back of the ticket with all of your info and it will be dismissed and the fee waived.
 
After this trauma, if you have decided to remain here in SF, introduce yourself to your local bartender, tell them your story, that you are out $200 and I guarantee that they’ll chuckle…give you a handshake, welcome you to the City, and then serve you up a drink on the house.
 
For more simple solutions to traumatic situations, and tips on how to avoid them, click here. If you are a conscientious thief, are planning a crime and want to learn more about the app that can help you find parking for the getaway car, click here. To be prepared for a situation like Newbie's download a free copy of “Where the F*&% is My Car Handy Flowchart” by clicking here.