7 On Your Side: Truck left abandoned in tow lot after reported stolen in 2012
(WJLA) - Clarence Miller’s work truck has seen better days. There is cell phone video of it being towed out of the Hyattsville lot where it sat for two years -- but its location is a complete surprise to Miller, who had reported it stolen in July of 2012.
"It was a major hurt, that was the main truck we were business with," he says.
But about eight hours after the truck was taken, District Heights Police found it and left it at this tow lot. But the tow company says that if the cops forgot about the truck, it wasn’t due to their lack of trying to get it out of there:
"We sent a notification at least five or six times, that I know of..."
District Heights Police made two attempts to notify Mr. Miller that his truck had been recovered, and the family says it was via certified mail that was sent here to the parking lot where the truck was stolen. The problem is that it’s a parking lot, which means those letters were just returned to the police department.
According to a police report, no letters were sent to Miller’s address, and no calls were made to his home. But the District Heights Police Chief wouldn’t answer ABC7’s questions, and instead, the city’s lawyer told us there would be no comment for fear of litigation.
"I feel this is gross negligence on behalf of the District Heights Police Department," says Anita Murray, Miller's daughter. "At what point does the alarm go off in your head?"
The family didn’t learn the truck had been found until January, but says the tow yard initially asked for $61,000 in storage fees to release the truck – so it sat there until late last month.
Once the family contacted 7 On Your Side, the ball started rolling.
"The police chief called us and asked us to return it, so we did," says a tow lot employee.
The fees were ultimately waived, but the truck was in bad shape – the tires were flat, the lights were removed, and Miller isn’t even sure it will run properly.
"Somebody dropped the ball. They didn't read. If they had read the incident report, I could have been contacted the truck the next day."
Now, Miller is left wondering how much of the damage could have been avoided if someone had just called him.