Car Found but Stripped?

My parents’ 96 Integra was stolen last week and they received a call from the police today saying that the car was found and is now in a towing yard. Apparently everything was stripped from the car…engine, tires, bumpers, you-name-it.

The towing yard is now insisting that my parents bring the car title to the towing yard so that the towing yard can tow the car to an actual junkyard. Unfortunately, the car did not have comprehensive insurance coverage. So essentially, my parents would have to pay for:

1. The tow to the towing yard

2. ?Storage? in the towing yard (apparently there?s a charge per day)

3. The tow to the junkyard

4. ?Storage? or a junkyard acceptance fee

Is this what normally happens with stolen but found cars? Or are the towing people trying to take my parents for a ride? Do my parents have to sign over the title to the tow or the junkyard people?

Any advice/information you might be able to provide would be fantastic. Thanks so much for your help and time!


I don’t know how they do things in that state but in many states, including OK, you do not HAVE To do anything.
One can simply choose to write the car off and let them do what they want with it.

Since this car is essentially scrap metal it’s not even worth the cost of one tow, much less any additional charges.
You might contact the DMV in that state and ask them about any state regulations in regard to something like this.
In my opinion anyway, this just sounds like someone trying to put the squeeze on someone for money.

Sandy, Thank You For The Good Example Of Why One Should Maintain Adequate Car Insurance.

Beside the possible expense and the hassle of straightening out this mess, there’s the loss of the car.

From what I’m reading, a car owner is liable for these charges which ordinarily would be paid by one’s car insurance. It varies state to state, but most states allow tow / store companies to take legal action against the car owner for costs plus collection costs. Your parents were the owners at the time the vehicle was stolen.

Your parents rolled the dice and lost. They can use the money they saved by choosing not to buy insurance to cover this expense.

I consider the approximate 15% of my car insurance premiums well worth the coverage for (zero deductible) glass replacement, vandalism, theft, fire, hail damage, and car-deer accidents coverage. I never even thought about towing and storage charges.


If you want to get the car BACK and don’t give them the title, you’d owe them those charges.

You don’t owe them if you give them the title. The car is theirs to sell for parts to recoup those charges. You are writing it off as a total loss.

( unless by some strange twist of fate they calculate that the remaining car parts are worth more than the charges against it and actually pay you something for your car. )

I disagree. A car that old will be totaled out in the smallest wreck. Even if it’s just a bumper replacement, odds are the insurance company won’t fix it, and will give you some pitiful sum with which you couldn’t hope to buy a reliable replacement. Once the vehicle is old enough that they are unlikely to fix it in a wreck, it’s better to switch to liability and medical only, and put the money you save into a car replacement account. Statistically, you’re likely to come out ahead.

CSA, I agree. Who wants to deal with this kind of headache when you don’t have to? If something like this happened to my car, my insurance company would handle everything for me and send me a check.

Your parents own the car and so they are still responsible for what is left of it.

The first two items they will owe to the towing company. These are usually somewhat established costs, they can’t just make something up based on your ability to pay for instance.

What happens after that is up to the owners. If they don’t like the option the towing company has provided, they are free to hire someone else to get the hulk off the towing company’s property. But don’t waste any time, the clock is running and the daily storage fees are just racking up…

Shadowfax, I “Totally” (No Pun Intended) Disagree. I Have Experienced 3 Total Losses And One Near Total. None Were The Fault Of Any Of Our Family Members And All Involved Older Cars Like You Describe.

Three cars were totalled while legally stopped, hit from behind.

I had 2 of the 3 totals professionally repaired and made a profit follwing my settlement for the loss. I “contracted” repairs for a better price. One vehicle on which I settled for $2300 (plus I got to keep the car), I repaired myself in the driveway with hand tools (including heavy tail panel hammer)and $100 worth of parts (with no painting required) and kept $2200. All repairs had the blessings of the insurance company and all had insurance reinstated following an inspection and photo shoot at the agency.

My previous daily driver was hit by a ticketed red-light-runner at a blind intersection. I cautiously approached the corner and nearly had the vehicle stopped but some blonde hit the left corner of the front bumper, anyhow. It was professionally repaired at no cost to me. This car would have been totalled (bumper cover, fender, headlight, wheel cover, t-signal, fender, etcetera, except for one thing.

In each case I did about an hour’s worth of homework. I shopped for comparable replacements online. I also used maintenance records showing recent purchases to raise the value of my vehicles. I refused to sign too-low settlements that were made by adjusters. You see, these settlements are negotiable, very negotiable. The insurance company’s (expletive deleted) adjuster tries to under-value a car. The owner needs to over-value the car using documentation. Then you meet somewhere in the middle or near the top. I have found that they get anxious to settle when I’m standoffish.

Add to this zero-deductible, glass replacements, etcetera, and I’d never be without adequate insurance on any car.

I agree with Whitey (Hooray!). Who needs the hassle. My agent helps me every way she can. I’d be out far more than the premiums I’ve paid following your advice.


If you just had liability insurance, then YOU are responsible for dealing with what is left of your car. I would offer the tow company the title in return for they drop all fees and charges against your car. Usually, they will…They have a lucrative contract with the police to tow stolen or abandoned vehicles and they make good money doing it. They either get paid for their work or they get the car…So give them the car (saving them a lot of time and expense to get a title on their lien) and move on.

There is also an issue of their charging the owner’s for the towing on vehicles that they’ve already collecetd from the town on…double cherging. A friend of mine faced the same situation, talked with the town’s police department, and started an investigation into the tow company’s practices. My friend also found out that the tow yard was under investigation for paying people to steal cars for them and leave them where they’d be towed under the police contract, which they would then tow and return to the original owner after the tow (the double charge) and storage charges were paid. Once they became aware that she’d started an investigation, they happily returned the car with all the charges waived. They were happy to be rid of her.

I would not take the tow company’s word on anything. Contact your local police and ask them what your parents are required to do. If the police don’t know, they should refer you to a government office that does.