Here’s what’s being done about abandoned RVs

An RV parked on Collins Avenue in Parchester Village. (photo credit: Capt. Al Walle)

A Richmond police captain reached out to residents in the Northern District to explain why abandoned RVs might not get impounded in quick time, and what’s being done about it.

It’s an interesting take by Capt. Al Walle. Here’s the message he posted to social media:

Northern District Residents,
There has been an increased level of frustration among residents regarding abandoned recreational vehicles and the police department’s unwillingness to impound them. I want to provide you with some context to the problem and let you know what we’re doing to resolve the issue.
The police department currently has a contract with five local tow operators who are placed on a tow rotational list. Whenever the police department needs a vehicle towed, the companies are called in turn and are displaced from the top of the list if they are unable to respond or unable to perform the required service. Lately, we’ve had all five tow companies refuse to impound abandoned RVs on a regular basis.
The reason why tow operators are refusing to impound abandoned RVs is because of their low resale value and the financial burden to recycle them. Tow companies make their profits through storage fees and by selling unclaimed cars. Abandoned RVs are often filled with trash and other hazards like sewage and propane tanks and the cost to properly clean/dismantle an RV prior to recycling is approximately $1,500.
Our current tow contract expires in June 2019 and the police department will soon be posting a request for proposals for a new contract. The scope of work for the new contract will specify the need for impounding abandoned RVs and will have stronger language in regards to a breach of contract for refusing an impound. The police department recognizes the towing industry can be a volatile business due to operating costs so we’ll likely reduce our contract to the three most responsive bidders in order to offset the costs of recycling RVs.
In the meantime, the police department is taking a case management approach to the current abandoned RVs you’re seeing on the street. We’re forming a special project team that will conduct an assessment of each RV in order to determine what resources are needed for removal. In some cases, the RVs are being used as homes and will require support from our mental health and homeless outreach teams. In other cases, the RVs may not be roadworthy and will require the Department of Infrastructure and Maintenance Operations to dismantle the RV on site prior to towing away the chassis. During this period before our contract renewal, we’ll also be working closely with our current tow operators to determine whether they have the desire or ability to continue providing the level of service that you deserve.