Denver's Notorious Impound Lot Is Also a Gold Mine

December 2010

As Denver officials sort out how to pay for raises to Denver police salaries (via Face the State), you might be wondering where the money will come from. One source is the city's controversial impound lot, where hundreds of vehicles seized under a nuisance law are held ransom for thousands of dollars. Fox31 ventures into the lot, finding that so far this year, the city has hauled away some 1,600 vehicles and charged even those owners who have not broken the law. That was the case for Robin McAnally, whose work truck was taken. Although he was found not guilty of a misdemeanor, he is being asked to pay $5,000 to recover his vehicle. But the city could sell it and keep the proceeds, or garnish his wages if the truck doesn't sell for the full amount of the impound fees.

The typical cost of reclaiming a vehicle is $2,000, and the impound system reaps some $2 million a year for the city of Denver's coffers. Attorneys like Mike McCullough are decrying that system. "There can be no evidence against you, you can have done nothing wrong, and they still say you have to pay $3,000 or $4,000 to get your car back," he says. "It's ridiculous."