NASHVILLE, Tenn. - While it does not seem fair, it is perfectly legal for private towing companies to charge victims of violent crime to retrieve their stolen vehicles.
Satena Scoggin was shocked when she was told to pay a $165 towing fee after her family's only car was stolen in a carjacking in Antioch.
"Why would I have to pay for towing?" questioned Scoggin. "I didn't cause my car to be towed and I didn't violate any laws, so why should I have to pay to get it back?"
In late May, her husband was allegedly robbed at gunpoint by two brothers outside their apartment on Hickory Hollow Parkway.
Dash cam video captured the suspects driving away before realizing they were caught on camera. The brothers were later arrested, and the car was found in a different complex near east Nashville.
"We are extremely relieved because a lot of people rely on us to be able to get around," added Scoggin.
However, it bothered Scoggin that there was a towing fee required even though her husband was the victim.
Legal experts said the responsibility of any property ultimately lies on the owner.
"If you own property you're responsible for that property. If there is an incident where the car is taken, recovered and towed to the lot, the owners of the lot have the right to charge a fee and they have the right to charge a daily storage," said Kevin Kennedy of The Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC.
In Davidson County, the main impound lot was privatized several years ago, but still housed Metro's auto theft unit. Scoggin's car was towed to the lot because it was still under criminal investigation.
Generally, Metro police can waive many fees pertaining to the investigation, and storage fees to keep the vehicle at the lot.
While it is not impossible, it is also rare to waive towing fees since it meant the private company would have to cover the cost of the tow.
For Scoggin's case, she called the detective with her concerns, and through police's help, had all of her fees waived.
"Though I understand someone had a job to do, it wasn't my fault someone had to do that job," emphasized Scoggin. "Someone should look at the rules because the victim should not have to come out of pocket to get their belongings back."
If caught, offenders can pay restitution to the victim, which would include any fees or damages as a result of the crime. It typically would be up to the district attorney or judge during a plea deal or sentencing.
Victims of crime can also be eligible for funds through a victims compensation fund. Click on the link to find out if you meet the requirements.