Carjacked? The City Wants To Know What’s In Your Wallet Before Turning Over Your Car
It was like a dream when I got the call. The man on the phone said, “I have your car. If you ever wanna see it again, come meet me and pay the money.”
Confused, I asked, “Are you the mutha@*%}cker who carjacked me?”
“No,” the man said, “I’m from [such and such] towing company. I have your —“
I hung up the phone and immediately called the police. The police were like, “Yeah, we know, sir. We called them.”
“It’s city policy,” the voice said. “Whenever a motor vehicle has been towed through a towing service business obtained from the NOPD…the owner operator of the vehicle being towed shall be responsible for —”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, “I know all about Section 162-1016 of the city charter, but my car was stolen, not abandoned.” That went over like an irrelevant factor. No more important than whether my car was black and gold or purple and yellow. “Again, it’s city policy,” the voice said. “You want your car, then you have to pay the money.”
Clearly this was some type of extortion. The next thought that went through my mind was that the city was behind the recent spike in carjackings. Just like when there’s big events and all nearby parking becomes a ticketable offense, the city was now extorting hundreds of dollars from citizens by stealing and towing their vehicles.
One of the city’s worst potholes-notice the old tire
I called the towing company back and was walked through the terms of the ransom. Apparently, the longer I waited the more expensive it would become for me to be reunited with my car. They called this storage fees. I expected some type of ransom video next. In one shot is a picture of one of the city’s most treacherous potholes. In another, a picture of my car slowly approaching it. Then a zoomed in shot of the pothole, followed by one of my front tires teetering on the edge of it. The thought being that the impending unimaginable damage to my car’s suspension would be enough for me to fork over the contents of my wallet.
At this point, I did what any sensible person would do. I got on the internet. According to the internet, there were over a 1,000, actually close to 2,000, people out there just like me. Next I tuned in to talk radio. On WBOK, one man called in and said, the city pulled the same thing with him in 2015, 7 years ago. Jeeesus, I thought, how long has this been going on? Surely, this couldn’t be legal. So I called the City Council. “Hello, City Council,” I said, “let me talk to future mayoral candidate Helena Moreno.”
“Future mayor Moreno is busy,” the voice said. “How can I help you?” I stated my grievance. The next thing I know, there she was, future mayor Moreno, on TV. She was also being quoted in newspaper articles. She said that in 2017 she had sponsored a state law HB309 that made this type of stuff illegal. And that she and other Council members were working on city ordinances to make sure people could get their money back via a Victim’s Bill of Rights Fund. She also said going forward that people who’ve been carjacked would no longer have to worry about their cars being held hostage at tow yards per the city charter. Both of those ordinances were adopted last Thursday at the Regular City Council Meeting. 7 yays and no nays.
Related: Do Our Schools Breed Carjackers
Well hot damn, I thought. That’s the strong and united Council we were promised. Never mind that the fund will be funded by taxpayers. That means we’ll be paying ourselves to repay ourselves. And never mind that the city’s Chief Administrative Office has 60 days to drag their feet and implement this. Change takes time, I thought. But this is an example of a problem being identified and quickly resolved – in New Orleans of all places. I felt warm all over. Maybe, just maybe this city could finally come together and become what’s the word? Functional. Clearly, I had to be dreaming. I pinched myself.
Next thing I knew, I was coming to at my steering wheel, Stop sign bright red in front of me. Before I could get my thoughts together, the kid in the hoodie was already at my door tapping on the window with his gun. I understood what was about to happen next. I stood there in the dark as he drove away, wondering if dreams do come true and if the city was in any position to make sure I was happily reunited with my car.