If any owners of 14 vehicles impounded by Dayton want them back they’ll be out of luck.
The vehicles were apparently sold for scrap and crushed in an apparent mixup that occurred when Sandy’s Auto and Truck Service took possession of nearly 600 impounded vehicles from Summit Towing in August, according to a Dayton Police report filed on Tuesday.
Sandy’s co-owner Ted Durig said Sandy’s bought Summit and as part of the deal transferred the impounded cars and about 200 others from Summit’s lot to Sandy’s two at a time using seven trucks. But police say 14 city-impounded vehicles that were not turned over by Summit were shipped to Cohen, a West Carrollton recycling facility, and crushed even though they lacked proper paperwork to do so.
The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Dayton police are investigating. Scrap metal processors and salvage dealers are required to obtain title to a vehicle before destroying it, said Lindsey Bohrer, spokeswoman for BMV. The state must be notified of the disposition of cars so they are all accounted for.
The Montgomery County prosecutor’s office provided advice to police but hasn’t yet been asked to review the case, said Leon Daidone, criminal division chief.
Both Durig and Dayton Police Assistant Chief Bob Chabali said they doubt the 14 cars would have been claimed by owners. Chabali said the owners would have already been informed of the impoundment and not claimed the vehicles.
“Most of the vehicles had been there for quite some time,” Chabali said. “They wouldn’t be recent tows.”
Durig said he doesn’t think there was any criminal intent involved, and there has been no indication that the cars were retitled and put back out on the street.
“I think most of these cars are derelict cars that had been there for years,” he said. “I don’t think somebody’s 2014 Corvette got crushed.”
Summit’s former owner Derek Spurlock and Cohen owner Andy Cohen could not be reached for comment.
Summit and Sandy’s - both of Dayton - had split the city in half under a city contract to tow cars - each paying the city about $150,000 annually out of tow and storage fees. Durig said the city puts tow orders on about 7,000 cars per year, down from about 12,000 annually several years ago. Tows are ordered due to traffic, drug and other criminal violations, Chabali said.
The city notifies owners when a car is impounded and Sandy’s also notifies them via certified letter before seeking title to the cars. Sandy’s has 1,897 cars stored - some impounded, others turned over by owners after wrecks or for other reasons. The $100 tow fee and $20 a day storage charges can pile up and eventually a court order to destroy the car can be obtained, but Durig said that can take a long time. He said Sandy’s doesn’t part out cars. Instead it sells them for scrap for about $350 per car once proper affidavits have been obtained.
He said the company tries to work with owners on the bills, and will take titles in lieu of payment of tow bills, but owners of cars towed for traffic violations cannot have the cars until they pay their tickets.
“So in lieu of paying (the ticket) they just stick us with the car,” Durig said.