If you live in Williamsburg and have a vehicle parked along a city street that hasn’t been used in quite some time, then you might want to move it onto your property if you want to keep it and avoid a tow bill.
The Williamsburg Police Department started towing abandoned vehicles Thursday and say it is something they plan to continue doing throughout the city if necessary.
“We have been getting complaints for a while throughout the city but more particularly on South Third Street because it is a really congested street. City Park is there. You have the library,” noted Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird. “One of the biggest complaints we are getting is from school buses. School buses are having a really difficult time getting up and down that street.”
Bird said that the four vehicles, which were towed Thursday, had been there for some time.
“We had weeds growing up around one of them, it had been there so long. All of them had canceled registration plates, and no insurance. The tags had been expired for two and three years,” Bird said. “One of the vehicles, which was closer to City Park, the drive shaft was hanging out of it on the ground. It had concrete blocks behind the wheels. We just decided we were going to start enforcing the abandoned vehicles law and that’s what we did.”
Bird acknowledged that a lot of people were upset complaining police didn’t get out and knock on doors before towing the vehicles.
Bird said he was on the South Third Street for over 30 minutes Thursday towing vehicles and not one person came out of their homes asking any questions.
“To this day, not one person has called my office and had any complaints about it,” Bird said Friday afternoon. “I guess they have chosen to voice their complaints in the community and on Facebook and that is fine. I know after doing this job for 21 years that I can’t make everyone happy. It is impossible. I am sorry they are upset about it but it is a state law. It is not a city ordinance.”
Bird posted a copy of the state statute regarding abandonment of a vehicle on the police department’s Facebook page Thursday.
The statute states that a vehicle left upon a county road or city street for three consecutive days shall be presumed to be abandoned.
Bird noted that his department doesn’t plan to go that far and have vehicles towed that have been sitting for just three days.
“If your vehicle is sitting there and it is non-operational, you’re not using it any more and it becomes an eyesore to the community then we are going to tow it under the abandoned vehicle law,” Bird said. “If people aren’t happy about that I don’t know what to say.”
Bird noted that one comment he saw on social media is that city is making money from this, which he disputes.
“We aren’t making a dime from this. We are trying to clean our streets up,” he added.
Bird noted that he didn’t issue any citations on any of the vehicles that were towed, which he could have done under state law.
“In order for the person to get their vehicle back, all they have to do is pay the tow bill, go get their vehicle and keep the vehicle off the city street,” he added. “I could have issued state citations to each individual. With court costs plus the fines-it probably would have been in excess of $160 but we choose not to do that.”