Abandoned Vehicle on Your Billings Street? Here’s What to Do
Car theft is a huge problem in Billings.
Not a day goes by that I don't see a post about a stolen vehicle on one of the Billings Community Facebook pages. Every. Single. Day. Citing FBI data, the Big Sky Business Journal wrote in February 2022 that Billings ranks 9th in the nation for vehicle theft. NINTH!! That sucks. Vehicle theft data from 2020 indicates there were 998 automobiles stolen in one year in the Magic City, far higher than the national average.
Some are recovered. Many are not.
Occasionally, stolen vehicles are recovered. Usually with broken parts, dents, scratches, missing wheels, tires, stereo, or other damage. Sometimes the stolen cars and trucks are taken to neighboring counties, where recovering the vehicles can be more of a challenge. Sometimes the thieves will ditch a car on a curb or parking lot somewhere in town. Perhaps right in front of your house. Then what?
Here's what to do.
Call the cops. A BPD officer will come to the vehicle (I assume they run the license plate and/or VIN number) and will slap an orange "abandoned vehicle" sticker on the window. If the car isn't moved within five days, the PD will defer the vehicle to the Yellowstone County Junk Vehicle division to be towed. According to the City of Billings,
Use the Billings Police online reporting system or call a volunteer at the Cop Shop to report an abandoned vehicle. The Cop Shop number is (406) 247-8590.
Please don't call 911 to report abandoned vehicles.
What about a vehicle in a business parking lot?
Scott Welter's family owns a couple of casinos in Billings and he just went through getting an abandoned vehicle towed from his casino parking lot on Lake Elmo Drive, where a car had been sitting for days. I asked Victoria Hill, Public Information Officer with the City of Billings how business owners should handle abandoned vehicles. They have two options:
- The business owner has the right to call a towing company and have it towed away. However, in that situation, the cost of the tow becomes a civil matter between the owner of the vehicle (if they come forward), the business owner, and the towing company. Note, you may have to call around. Not all towing companies in town will do this. Welter said he used Abell Towing.
- Handle the matter the same as if the car is parked on a public street. Call the Cop Shop at (406) 247-8590 or file a report online HERE.
Abandoned vehicles are an unsightly side-effect of auto theft, so if you see something, say something.