Abandoned vehicle program disposes of junkers, clunkers

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 62nd Airlift Wing leadership began cracking down on abandoned and unregistered vehicles on base recently.

"As a military installation, McChord's appearance standards are designed to project a professional image while incorporating safety standards that protect all of us," said Detective Joe Ramos, 62nd Security Forces Squadron. "The abandonment of vehicles suggests a lack of civic responsibility and poses a potential hazard for all."

According to 62nd AW Instruction 31-5, McChord Traffic Instruction, a vehicle is considered abandoned when:
-- Its license plates, tags or registration have been expired for more than 30 days
-- The vehicle does not have military and current state registration
-- It's not registered with a state and improperly registered so that there is difficulty establishing ownership
-- The vehicle is heavily damaged or has major components missing such as an engine or radiator
-- The automobile is left unattended on a roadway or street and is obstructing traffic
-- The vehicle is observed unattended for a period of at least seven consecutive days
-- It is not attached to a registered vehicle with a permit from the housing office, if it is a trailer, boat, recreation vehicle, detached camper or canopy

If a vehicle meets any of the suspected abandoned vehicle criteria listed, the 62nd SFS will issue a traffic ticket with an abandoned vehicle notice, Mr. Ramos said.

Before the vehicle is towed, the 62nd SFS investigations section will attempt to locate the registered owner to attempt to correct the problem with the vehicle, he said.

However, if there is difficulty in identifying the registered owner, the 62nd SFS will consider the vehicle abandoned and the vehicle will be towed at the registered owner's expense.

Owners will be responsible for storage fees as well, Mr. Ramos said. The towing company will also send a letter to the registered owner notifying them that their vehicle was impounded.

However, Mr. Ramos said since McChord doesn't have a long-term parking lot, he will try not to cite the vehicles of those going on temporary duty assignments.

"I will do my best to not tow any vehicles of personnel who are TDY, even if they are parked for more than seven days," he said. "I have a checklist to help prevent me from doing this."

In the meantime, however, Mr. Ramos said Airmen should park their vehicles at home, at their dormitories or near their squadrons.

Additionally Airmen should let people in their squadrons know what kind of vehicle they own and where they're going to park it, he said.

Mr. Ramos also said people should not park their vehicles at the Evergreen Inn when taking the airport shuttle.

For more information, call the 62nd Security Forces Investigations section at 982-5936.