Dude, Where’s My Car Happens About 17,000 Times A Year

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Chicago relocates a lot of parked cars.

That’s the gist of an article on the front page of Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune.

The Trib’s research finds that the city towed and relocated over 17,000 vehicles in the past year. Many times the city needs to tow street parked vehicles that are where some sort of construction or utility work needs to be done. Most of the time cars were relocated to adjacent streets within a few blocks but sometimes farther away.

Signs are usually posted a day or two in advance of the construction project or other event, but often drivers don’t move their cars in time, or in the event of an emergency, vehicles may need to be removed without warning.

While having a car relocated is a pain in the butt, there’s normally no ticket or fee when this happens, unlike being towed to one of Chicago’s infamous auto pounds which will cost a driver $160 to free their vehicle.

It’s no surprise to seasoned drivers that the vast majority of the relocated vehicles were towed in the North side of the city where congestion is worst.

The story spotlights several drivers, who after returning to where they last parked their vehicle, found their car had disappeared. The main issue, according to the story, was when the car owners called 311 to see if their car had been towed or report it stolen, the city didn’t have the car listed in their records.

Some assumed it stolen and began filing police reports and insurance claims. Others stopped looking or asking about their vehicle. In each case, the vehicle did ultimately turn up but the communication process between city and car owner is slow, ponderous and largely ineffective according to the Tribune.

While the Trib story does point out serious weaknesses in this process, there are many resources available to drivers to locate their vehicles.

Of course there’s 311 and checking with the Chicago Police Department. But the city also offers an online database to search for your vehicle.

Here’s the full story, “Where did city put your car and why?

And for everything you needed to know about being towed by the city, here’s The Expired Meter’s treatise on the subject, “Parking Ticket 101: Tow Tips.”

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