How to Report an Abandoned Vehicle

How to Report an Abandoned Vehicle
••• Rusty car in Oradour-sur-Glane, Two Wings

An abandoned vehicle is not only an eyesore but can pose a danger, especially if it is illegally parked and obstructing traffic. The help of residents in reporting abandoned vehicles is essential in enforcing parking and code laws, as most city police simply do not have time to go looking for abandoned vehicle violations. If you suspect an abandoned vehicle in your area, here's how to report it to the proper authorities.

Reporting abandoned vehicles

Step 1

Determine if the vehicle is abandoned. Abandoned vehicles generally fall under a city's jurisdiction and are subject to its laws, so the legal definition of "abandoned" may vary from city to city. In general, a vehicle that is illegally parked for more than 24 hours, a vehicle that is obviously in inoperable condition, a vehicle missing a license plate, or a vehicle that is observed to be left on public property for an extended period may be considered abandoned. Unsightly vehicles are not necessarily abandoned.

Step 2

Gather your information for making the report. City officials appreciate you having all of your information together before you call. Here is the basic information usually needed, although particulars may vary from city to city: - A description of the vehicle (make, color, your guess as to age) - License plate or VIN - Location (specific address or cross streets if possible) - How long it has been there - Your name and a contact phone number or address (required to process a report, but generally kept confidential) - Any other information you have as to the status of the vehicle and why you suspect it is abandoned

Step 3

Locate the proper city department. For vehicles parked on public property such as the street, the authority in charge is often the Police Department or Parking Enforcement. For vehicles parked on private property, the city department in charge will usually be Code Enforcement or Parking Enforcement. Start with these city offices to determine where and how to file your report. An employee should direct you to the correct office and explain the filing procedure. This is usually the end of the procedure, unless the police or city official needs more information from you to investigate.

Read More: How to Remove an Abandoned Vehicle


  • Don't be concerned if your report is not addressed immediately. While parking and code enforcement are important issues, emergencies may keep the police or other city department from responding.
  • Try to be certain that the vehicle is abandoned before calling---try checking with neighbors or others in the area to be sure.

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