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Abandoned Vehicle Removal

Related Pages: Public Works & Parks

In order to address a serious problem that was plaguing our neighborhoods and seriously impacting the quality of life in the City of Worcester, the Department of Public Works & Parks, in April of 2003, embarked upon an ambitious task - to rid the City of the blight of hundreds of abandoned vehicles littering our streets. As part of the City's Keep Worcester Clean campaign, these eyesores that proliferated throughout many of our neighborhoods were identified and the daunting task of removing them began. Through the conscientious efforts of many in the Department, this program has proven very successful. Through June of 2009, nearly 7,800 abandoned vehicles have been removed from our streets. With the on-going assistance of the citizens of Worcester in reporting vehicles they think are abandoned and periodic patrols by our Parking Control Officers, DPW&P will be vigilant, dedicated to keeping our streets free of this menace.

What is an abandoned vehicle?

A vehicle is considered to be abandoned if it meets both of the following two (2) criteria:

  1. It has not moved for seventy-two (72) hours; AND
  2. It is "deemed to be abandoned". This includes a vehicle with:
    • no license plates; or
    • an attached license plate (a plate that differs from the one recorded at the Registry of Motor Vehicles for that vehicle); or
    • an expired vehicle registration (NOT an expired inspection sticker!); or
    • a revoked registration with the insurance cancelled.

Additional factors such as flat tires, broken windows or "filled with trash" will signal a problem but one of a) through d) above must apply.

How does the program work?

When a vehicle is "deemed to be abandoned", a green tag is placed on it, warning the owner that if the vehicle is not removed from the streets within seventy-two (72) hours, the City will tow it away and they will be subject to a $500 fine (first time offender) or $700 (second time offender). The impounded vehicle is held for 30 days. If it goes unclaimed, it is disposed of by our towing contractor.

How do I report what I think is an abandoned vehicle?

Abandoned vehicles should be reported to DPW&P Customer Service Center (508) 929-1300. The reporter is expected to give an exact location of the vehicle (house number and street OR the two (2) intersecting streets), its make, model and color and a plate number, if there is one on the vehicle as well as the condition of the vehicle.

What happens next?

If a plate number is reported, it is first checked to determine if it is an active registration. If it is, no action is taken.

If there is no plate on the vehicle or the plate is found either to be expired, attached or revoked with the insurance cancelled, a Parking Control Officer is dispatched to verify the information and evaluate the vehicle on site. If one of the criteria is met, the vehicle is green tagged with a seventy-two (72) hour window for the owner to move the vehicle off the street.

Each day, the towing contractor is supplied a list of all the vehicles that were tagged the previous day. When the seventy-two (72) hour ‘grace' period has expired, the towing contractor visits the location of each green-tagged vehicle. Those that are found to still be on the street are towed to a storage facility where they are held for thirty (30) days, pending possible reclamation by the owner.

How are the penalties for leaving an abandoned vehicle on the street assessed?

Within a reasonable time frame, the last registered owner of each towed vehicle is called to a hearing with the Parking Administrator. Unless it can be proven with proper documentation (a copy of the front and back of the title showing to whom the vehicle was sold or traded) that the ownership of the vehicle was legally transferred, the last registered owner is held liable for a fine of $500 (first time offender) or $700 (second time offender). If paid within the thirty (30) day holding period, the vehicle may be reclaimed.

What happens if a violator never appears for the hearing or appears and then doesn't pay the fine?

Those who fail to appear for their hearing are found "guilty by default". Along with those who appear, are found guilty and fail to pay the fine (a generous thirty [30] days is allowed in which to pay), additional action is taken to insure that the fine is eventually paid. That action involves "marking" the violator in the Registry of Motor Vehicles. This ‘mark' signifies that the violator is in debt to the City of Worcester and he or she is prevented from doing any further business with the Registry until this debt is settled. This includes the renewal of a driver's license or the registration or re-registration of any other vehicle. This may also subject the violator to surcharges by the Registry.

What has to happen to remove this 'mark'?

Once the violator appears at the Parking Administration Office and pays the fine and any surcharges added by the Registry, the ‘mark' is removed.

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