Auto theft is a significant problem across the United States with California leading the pack. Nationwide, there were over 700,000 vehicles stolen in 2011 with over 150,000 of those thefts occurring in California alone. That means that that over one in every five vehicle thefts in the U.S. occurs in California. In San Diego County alone a vehicle is stolen every 35 minutes. If your car is stolen in a auto theft in San Diego you need to know how to get it back.
Unfortunately for the owner of a stolen vehicle, getting the vehicle back can be complicated and costly in some cases. Once your vehicle is stolen it legally becomes evidence of a crime. If the vehicle is not used in any additional crimes the search of the vehicle for evidence doesn’t usually take more than a day or so after the vehicle is recovered. What happens after that can vary depending on a variety of factors. Sometimes, the police will telephone the registered owner as soon as the vehicle is recovered, thus allowing the owner to come and pick up the vehicle or arrange for a tow if the vehicle isn’t operational. This is a “best case scenario”. Other times the police will simply have the vehicle towed to an impound lot without attempting to contact the owner first. When this happens, the impound lot will send a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle notifying the owner that the vehicle is being held at the lot. Not only does this mean the owner is without his or her vehicle for additional days, but often means the owner then has to pay towing and storage fees to get the vehicle out.
If your vehicle was involved in additional crimes other than the theft itself your vehicle may be held longer. Further testing of the vehicle may need to be conducted for trace evidence left behind in the vehicle. Again, exactly how this is handled will depend on a number of factors. Moreover, policies and procedures can vary from county to county.
If you have been a victim of auto theft in San Diego and you find that getting the car back once it is recovered is becoming costly or complicated, contact an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney. Sometimes you need someone who is familiar with those policies and procedures to help.