Minneapolis towing, by the numbers

Categories: Minneapolis
car tow snow.jpg
This happens a lot.
If you've ever wondered how much money people spend on retrieving towed cars from the Minneapolis Impound Lot, City Pages has the answer: A lot.

Minneapolis drivers have paid more than $30 million in towing and retrieval fees since 2006, according to city records obtained by City Pages. The city accounts for nearly $40 million in revenue related to the impound lot during the same time.

The vast majority of that revenue goes back out the door in expenses for employee salaries, towing companies, and the lot itself. But not all of it: From January 1, 2006 to July 31 of this year, the City of Minneapolis has made more than $7 million profit thanks to towing fees and the auction sales of cars that owners don't retrieve.

In total, 208,520 cars have been towed into the Minneapolis Impound Lot, at an average of about 37,300 a year. That's more than 100 cars for each and every damn day of the year.

Revenue has actually been on the way down over the past few years. In 2007, the city towed more than 44,000 cars, and collected more than $7.9 million in fees. Last year, only -- only? -- 34,977 cars were towed, adding up to a total of $6.4 million in fees.

The city is on pace to collect about $6.7 million in 2011, a slight uptick from last year. Through the first seven months of this year, 18,435 cars were towed to the lot, which had an inventory of 847 cars as of July 31.

ford expedition.jpg
This Ford Expedition was up for bids at the most recent public auction.
About $5 million of the total revenue for the impound lot comes from daily storage fees, which run at $18 a day. After 15 days -- by which point the car's owner would've accumulated at least $400 in fees -- cars can be sold at public auctions, which are held the first Thursday of each month. Dealer auctions, where totaled cars are sold for scrap, are held each Thursday.

The City of Minneapolis contracts six private companies to tow vehicles to the lot. Last year, Wrecker Service and Rapid Recovery did best, pulling in $690,000 and $630,000, respectively, in city money. This year, Rapid Recovery is leading  the pack with $407,000 in towing money from the city through July 31.

In order to staff the impound lot seven days a week, 354 days a year, and stay open for 24 hours during the first couple days of a snow emergency, the city spent about $1.3 million on salaries last year.

So, the next time you walk out of your house, or out of a restaurant, and see that your car is missing, you can know two things: First, the city and a private towing company just made a little dough off your mistake -- and, furious though you may be, you're not alone.

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9 comments
Blaine Garrett
Blaine Garrett

My truck was stolen a few years ago. The radio was ripped out and the truck was dumped in North. I figure it is the police's duty to help get your stolen vehicle back, but apparently that isn't the case with the city itself since I had to pay towing and impound fees after the vehicle was recovered. After reading this, i can see why.

FTP
FTP

The city police department has engaged in a revenue scam lately.  Ticketing and immediately towing cars that are just one inch over the line on overly wide driveway zones.  Taking tape measures to those stop signs that say "no parking 30ft."  Police's job is to enforce law, not extort revenue.

Zeroisanumber
Zeroisanumber

I was towed once during a snow emergency. A nine-hour ordeal later, and I was finally able to pay my fines and leave. These days I'm more than a little paranoid about the idea of getting towed in a snow emergency.

Kevin Watterson
Kevin Watterson

I've paid $0 with this handy guiding principle: Don't get towed. 

Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

How can people afford to allow a vehicle to go to action like that?  Impound and towing fees were peanuts in comparison to the value of the Ford Expedition shown above.Some sort of sickness I guess...

JACC
JACC

And they still can't keep the streets open in the winter.

donttowme!
donttowme!

Or they are on vacation. Or in jail. Or have multiple vehicles and did not notice the missing car before the 15 day window is hit and it can be sold.

donttowme
donttowme

Or simply can't afford the towing fees until their next paycheck (if even then)

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