Cedar Rapids police towed out a car-crushing machine this week, to show awed drivers what will happen if they leave their wheels on the street on a snow day. Lieutenant Chuck Mincks says the city’s grown too big for police to handle the volume of abandoned and towed cars that come into their custody. Mincks says Cedar Rapids police are towing more than three-thousand vehicles a year. He says some of the better abandoned cars and used city vehicles are still resold, but there’s an unmanageable volume of cars nobody wants.He says they’ve gotten out of the “semiannual auto-auction business,” which was getting like running a used-car lot, so they followed state rules to set up instead a disposal program. They now crush about a thousand cars a year, into scrap metal. One big season for towing is snowfall time, when cars in the way of the plow may be hauled away promptly — but officer Mincks says that rule is not unfair to car owners, even those who don’t have a garage.If they can move the car, around the block or a few feet, it shows they’re making a fair effort and not just leaving a junk heap on the street for their convenience and the inconvenience of other taxpayers, then the car won’t be towed. Abandoned vehicles, sometimes even on the owner’s property, become health and safety nuisances and vermin can move in, and often people just walk away from a junker; Mincks says the “vast majority” of cars crushed by the city weren’t worth the money it would take to get them out of the impound lot.
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