Investigation: Victims of Nashville car theft under financial pressure to get cars back

Photo: FOX 17 News

A FOX 17 News investigation discovers victims of car theft may be being re-victimized when they try to get their cars back.

Hitting the lock button on her new car is something Amber Kerby does religiously now.

“I lock it three times when I get out of it. I'm much more aware,” Kerby said.

This has become habit after she woke up to an empty driveway back in August.

“I just went into straight panic mode, freaking out,” Kerby said.

She immediately reported the stolen Honda to police, desperate for help.

“I could like barely even breathe and like get the words out cause I was panicking so bad,” Kerby said.

She said police told her they would let her know if her car turned up, but for days she heard nothing. During that time, she bought a new car, convinced she wouldn't be seeing her Honda again. Then, five days later, someone suggested she check the impound lot website.

Sure enough, her car sat with hundreds of others. Records show police recovered it just a day after someone stole it.

“So, I called metro back and said, ‘Hey, my car's been sitting here, what's going on? Like, why didn't y’all let me know?’ I was really upset about it,” Kerby said.

Her insurance paid the tow fee, but after already buying a new car, Amber had to sell the Honda. Still, she considers herself lucky compared to others.

Eden Carlock was not so lucky.

“Because I had to fork out a bunch of money out of pocket, I almost lost my apartment,” Eden said.

Back in October, someone stole her bright yellow dodge from her apartment complex.

“The car was found within 24 hours of it being stolen and my insurance company was actually the one that told me it was found,” Carlock said.

She said when police finally called, they told her when they finished processing the car, she had 24 hours to pay the $175 tow fee to get it out, or she'd be charged storage fees each day.

“I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck, I didn't have the extra funds to get the car out,” Carlock said.

She ended up taking a loan from a friend to get her car before the fines kicked in. It’s something she says put her in a rough financial spot.

“Making the victim the victim again and again and again,” Carlock said.

Metro wouldn't go on camera, but said officers are supposed to notify victims within seven days of finding their cars.

“Their answer was basically it happens too often for us to keep up with it,” Kerby said.

Metro Police tell FOX 17 News victims are responsible for tow fees unless they're victims of violent crime. If they don't get the car after it's released, they do have to pay daily storage fees.

“If someone didn't make that 24 hour window, they'd be building up money and money and money for something that they had no control over, something that wasn't their fault,” Carlock said.

Metro Police say they found keys in both victims’ cars. They say without these rules; tax payer money would have to cover it.

However, for people like Eden and Amber, it’s a system they think needs fixing.

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