Parking Quiz Answers: Was Your Car Towed or Stolen?


Earlier today, our parking guru David La Bua, author of Finding the Sweet Spot, asked which happens more in our fair city: getting your car towed, or stolen? The answers are revealed below, and Mr. La Bua's got some good and bad news for you car drivers. What did you guess?

1) How many cars are towed per year in San Francisco?
    A) 700 
    B) 7,000
    C) 70,000
    D) 700,000
    E) 7,000,000

2) How many cars are stolen per year in San Francisco?
    A) 600 
    B) 6000
    C) 60,000
    D) 600,000
    E) 6,000,000


1) C: 70,000 cars are towed by AutoReturn per year in SF

2) B: 6,000 cars are stolen per year in SF.

Says David: The good news is that if you find that your car is missing in San Francisco, it is 10 times more likely that it was towed rather than stolen.

The bad news is, that it’s going to cost you about $400 to get it back.  This is up from $188.25 just a few years ago.  The towing fee is currently $199.25, and there is a City of San Francisco “Administrative Fee” of $186.50.  I’ll save you the trouble of calling up your calculator app…. That’s about $14 million for AutoReturn, and a little over $13 million for the City each year.

If you are doubly unlucky and your car is stolen. and then towed, the good news is that if you are a resident of SF, you will not have to pay the $186.50 SF administrative fee. The bad news is that if you are not a resident of SF, and you want your car back, you will have to pay $385.75, then $59.75/day for every day your vehicle is stored.  Every stolen vehicle that was towed in SF used to be exempt from towing and storage fees, but in 2005 a law was approved that only city residents should be exempt from paying the fees.  It passed the Board of Supervisors 9-2.

The good news though is that the SF Metropolitan Area was not number one in stolen vehicles in the was seventh in 2009.  The bad news is that it was ninth the year before. 

Last year’s top metropolitan areas with the highest rate of vehicle theft were: 
1.    Laredo, Texas
2.    2. Modesto, CA
3.    Bakersfield, CA
4.    Stockton, CA
5.    Fresno, CA
6.    Yakima, WA
7.    SF Bay Area
8.    Visalia, CA
9.    Las Vegas, NV
10.    Albuquerque, NM

And, the top 10 list of stolen vehicles in 2009:
1. 1994 Honda Accord                                     

2. 1995 Honda Civic                                        

3. 1991 Toyota Camry                                      

4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup                   

5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup                    

6. 2000 Dodge Caravan                                               

7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)                              

8. 1994 Acura Integra                                       

9. 2002 Ford Explorer

10. 2009 Toyota Corolla

Remember, this is a popular time of year to have your car broken into.  Cars broken into are not very sexy cases for the police and will not receive much attention. Prevention is your best option. So, in order to not have your holiday season dampened by the Grinch, remember:

    - Always lock your doors, even if you’re just parking for a second.
    - Put valuables in your trunk before you park not after.
    - If you have a removable faceplate on your stereo…remove it.
    - Don’t leave attractive shopping bags inside your car, even if that Macy’s  bag is full of dirty laundry, it will catch the attention of a thief.
Good luck this holiday season, and remember that while unfortunate things happen from time to time, having your vehicle ticketed or towed is 100 percent avoidable and in your power. 

For some of the best tips to avoid getting a ticket or towed, click here.

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