Old junkers have become the perfect target for thieves, but the crooks say they are not doing anything wrong and following the law.
Kansas City police recently caught a truck on tape towing away a car. The problem is, the car's owner never called the tow truck, and they never saw their car again.
It was sold for scrap, according to police.
"Most of the tow trucks that we've seen, that we've captured on surveillance video, these are usually plain tow trucks. They are not from major tow companies in our area but just vehicles equipped with tow packages on them that are going around removing cars," Master Patrol Officer James Schriever said.
Police said the towers can get up to $500 for the cars, and they can get away with it because Missouri law allows it.
"Most of them are saying they are following the law," Schriever said.
House Bill 1150 went into effect in August 2012. It makes it legal to sell an inoperable vehicle 10 years or older without a title.
The intent was to make it easier for rural landowners to get rid of vehicles left abandoned on their property.
"The criminals are using that word 'inoperable' to their advantage," Schriever said.
Schriever said "inoperable" can mean something as simple as a dead battery or a flat tire.
Tow truck drivers are actually driving around looking for cars that may have a flat, Schriever said.
According to police, auto thefts are up 17 percent in Kansas City and 36 percent in St. Louis since the law went into effect.
"We'd like to put a stop to it as quickly as we can," Schriever said.
To avoid this from happening to you, police say, to make sure your car is always in working order and keep your eyes open in your neighborhood.
If you see a truck towing away a neighbor's car, look for a certificate in back of the tow truck's window - that means it's registered with the city and is a trusted company. Also legitimate tow trucks tend to be very flashy with their paint jobs.
If you suspect something is wrong call your local law enforcement agency and they will send an officer over.
You can contact your representative to reverse the law.
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