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Ask a cop: An abandoned vehicle I reported is still there. Should I call again?

Editor's note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Send questions to Reporter Cliff Newell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

I reported an abandoned vehicle in my neighborhood. Now, two days later, it’s still there. Do I need to call again?

You actually do not need to call again. Depending on the situation it can take a week or up to a month to get a car moved either by the owner or by towing.

In any case, it is doubtful that the situation would be resolved in only two days.

Lake Oswego Code (LOC) 32.06.076 prohibits storing of a vehicle on a public road for more than 72 hours. Even if you’ve seen the car there for a week or more, that time doesn’t start until the responding officer notes the car. Storing a vehicle is only a citable offense (we can issue a parking ticket but we cannot tow). So after three days the officer should return and cite the vehicle for “Storing,” which is a $15 fine.

Generally at this time, the officer will also affix an orange sticker notifying the owner that the officer will tow the vehicle as abandoned after 5 days. In 5 days the officer should return and tow the vehicle.

This general timeline can be different on a case-by-case situation and dependent on officer discretion. For instance, if the vehicle is in a residential neighborhood but is registered in another city or state, I might affix the orange sticker on the first day I am on scene. Especially if the registration is expired, the vehicle has two flat tires, or it displays obvious evidence of having sat a long time such as an accumulation of leaves or debris.

If the vehicle is parked in front of the residence it is registered to, I would probably just go knock on the door and advise the owner of the ordinance for moving the vehicle every 72 hours.

It is possible that a vehicle could sit longer than 5 days without being towed after the orange sticker is attached. For instance, if someone is house sitting and the car owner is out of town for a couple of weeks we might not tow. We want to be very careful about respecting people’s rights to personal property, although they may still get a $15 “storing” ticket.

Of course, if a car constitutes a safety hazard, it would probably be towed immediately.

So, after two days you don’t need to call. But you certainly can call if you want to know the reason a car is still sitting after several days. Please have the license number or the date you originally called, it makes it a lot easier for the dispatcher to look up the incident.

— Officer Officer Dan Phillips, Lake Oswego Police Department



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