Aurora voucher program reduces costs for car theft victims

Getting your car stolen is frustrating, and paying to get it back adds insult to injury. The city of Aurora’s new Motor Vehicle Theft Recovery Victim Voucher Program is helping victims save hundreds on retrieval fees.

Starting this year, if a stolen vehicle is recovered by the Aurora Police Department, the owner will have 72 hours from the time of impoundment to retrieve their vehicle at no cost.

Councilman Juan Marcano was behind the push to pass $1 million in funding to help offset expenses. He says residents told him they felt penalized for their cars being found.

“We should not be charging people who are victims a fee on top of the economic hardship, emotional stress and other struggles that they’re having to deal with as a result of their vehicle being stolen,” said Marcano.

The city of Aurora does not own its own impound lot. It contracts one out of a facility and collects storage fees.

The storage fee for one day is $200.

“Many people can’t afford to get their car out, so they can’t get to work. They can’t get their kids to school. They can’t get their groceries. They can’t get their medicine. We’ it’s just compounding the harm,” said Marcano.

He says they are currently evaluating a publicly owned impound lot for the city. So far, the city has given out about $60,000 worth of vouchers.

Michael Nincehelser, the vehicle impound supervisor, says the fee to release the vehicle is often just the beginning for victims. Stolen cars aren’t always returned in good shape.

“You have deductibles and you have repairs, bodywork, ignition repairs, and really there’s no telling what other damages underneath the hood could be occurring due to that,” said Nincehelser. “To pour another couple hundred on it is really unfortunate. I think the spirit of this new voucher program kind of alleviates that.”

If a Sunday or city-observed holiday falls within the first 72 hours of impoundment those hours will also be covered.

If a vehicle is retrieved after the first 72 hours, a voucher will still be issued for those costs associated with those first 72 hours; however, any storage fees accrued after those 72 hours will be the responsibility of the owner, owner’s agent or lien holder of such vehicle.

The impounded vehicle must have been reported stolen to a police department and have a corresponding report validating such claim. Only stolen vehicles recovered by the Aurora Police Department and towed to the APD impound lot are eligible for this voucher program.

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