Car theft victim forced to pay tow charges: 'I'm dumbfounded by it'

Car theft victim forced to pay tow charges: 'I'm dumbfounded by it' »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- If getting your car stolen isn't bad enough. How about paying to get it back? It's a common practice in Yakima for tow companies to charge steep prices to stolen car victims. And it's perfectly legal.

As a single, working mom, Amanda Navarro was put in a tougher situation after her car was stolen.

So when she heard it had been found she was ecstatic.

"I got excited because I didn't expect it back, like I seriously thought they were going to strip it," said Amanda Navarro, a victim of car theft.

Turns out, the thieves didn't touch a thing. But she couldn't get her own car back until she paid $200 to get it out of impound.

"I'm dumbfounded by it, like that's a lot of money," Navarro said.

Normally when a stolen car is found by law enforcement they call the owner and give them a chance to pick it up or call someone to tow it.

But Amanda's car was parked on private property and the owner had it towed.

Because it's a civil matter she had no chance to pick it up before it was impounded.

"Honestly I felt more victimized by the tow company than I did by the person stealing the car," Navarro said.

According to Washington state law victims of car theft can be charged no more than $177 per hour for the tow company to go get the car and $45 for each day it's impounded. Action Towing waved the 45 dollar impound fee for Amanda. not only were they following the law, but they cut her a break.

"We pay income on that, we pay a driver on that, we pay a truck," said Matt McDougal of Action Towing.

He says his company is only left with 20 percent profit. And that's only on the cars that people pick up. Action Towing says about 75% of the stolen cars are never claimed.

So, how can you avoid getting victimized twice? Authorities say getting full coverage insurance often covers the additional costs of towing and impound fees.

Amanda now says she'd happily pay a little more, to ensure that she doesn't get stuck with anymore tow fees.

Once a stolen car is found by police it has to be picked up immediately, either by the owner or a tow company.