Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Police fail to notify stolen trailer owner, towing company takes title

TUCSON – A woman wants the city to pay for her stolen trailer because police did not notify her when they found it.

Gary’s Towing took legal ownership after it was stored for “safekeeping.”

A man stole Kathy Stone’s 35-foot trailer on November 17, 2017. He tore it apart and stole almost everything valuable. Police recovered it a few days later.

Stone learned it was recovered because she received an abandoned vehicle notification from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The letter stated the ownership of the vehicle “may be transferred” if she did not get it from Gary’s.

“I was shocked,” Stone said, “because I was told by the police officer that I made the report with, that because it was grand theft auto, that if the trailer was found, I would be the first one to be notified.”

She went to Gary’s Towing, and they wanted money for the trailer.

“They had no compassion for anything,” Stone said. “They didn’t care about the situation. All they cared about was getting the towing fees and the storage fees.”

She tried to sort the problem out with the city, including filing a complaint with the Tucson Police Department.

She received a letter from the department stating the employee “was found in violation of Tucson Police Department General Orders.”

The lieutenant also wrote, “On behalf of the Tucson Police Department, I would like to apologize for not providing you with the level of customer service you deserved.”

While appealing to the city and towing company, Gary’s took ownership of the trailer.

“I didn’t just ignore it,” Stone said. “But at no point in time did they say, ‘Well, if you don’t do something by such and such date, we’re going to file for ignoring it, abandoning it,’ which I didn’t abandon it.”

A Gary’s employee declined an opportunity for an interview on the subject. She said as soon as the company filed the initial paperwork with ADOT, the process keeps moving until the company owns the trailer. When asked if Gary’s had discretion to return the vehicle to the original owner, the employee said the company can do whatever it wants with the vehicle.

“I don’t know why Tucson would want to deal with Gary’s Towing doing citizens like this,” Stone said. “Plus, I’m upset mainly with the Tucson Police Department because they didn’t do their job in the first place.”

The person who stole the trailer was a man the family had met before. They identified him to police, but no arrests were made.

The city’s risk management department is still in the process of reviewing the claim for reimbursement.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson.
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