Police in Ohio Leaving Abandoned Cars on Street Because of Full Impound Lot

Photo:  James Carbone/Newsday RM (Getty Images)
Photo: James Carbone/Newsday RM (Getty Images)

Abandoned vehicles can be a huge inconvenience, especially if they’re dumped in front of your home. Usually, the local police will tow an abandoned car at the expense of the vehicle’s owner and auction off the car if it goes unclaimed. But what if those dumped cars couldn’t be towed?

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Columbus police have been dealing with impound lot capacity issues for months, according to WBNS. The police are restricting its lot to critical impounds, damaged vehicles blocking roadways, or vehicles involved in felony crimes. The restrictions have led to abandoned cars being left to rust across Columbus, with complaints from local residents unresolved. In an email to WSYX, a Columbus police spokesperson wrote:


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“The Division identified an operational need to restrict towing due to Police Impound Lot capacity, to ensure that space remains available for critical impounds. To address this need, the Division enacted departmental towing restrictions in January 2023. The temporary guidance states that vehicles shall not be towed strictly for parking violations. The vehicle operator and owner can still be issued a citation. The Division is currently working to reduce the number of vehicles in the Impound Lot and return to normal operations.

The Division encourages owners to continue reporting unlawfully parked cars. An officer will respond and address each incident appropriately. This may include an attempt to locate the owner or operator and prompt them to move the vehicle or the issuance of a citation.”

It’s unclear exactly how the police ran out of space in its impound lot. Anecdotal accounts places blame on the wave of Kia and Hyundai thefts. Columbus resident Emily Prieto recounted a police interaction about a dumped car in front of her house to WBNS. She stated, “The officer said there was nothing that could be done until June, so this will sit here until June when there is room at the impound lot because of the Kia Boyz stealing the cars.” The Columbus police hope to have space in its lot after its monthly vehicle auction.

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