More than 500 vehicles confiscated by the city police on various charges have been abandoned by their owners.
This is turning out to be a big worry for the police, who have run out of space to park such vehicles. In some areas, they have stopped confiscating vehicles, even in cases of drunken driving. Instead, the policemen are collecting spot fines, taking away the original documents and letting the offenders go.
Express contacted all 42 traffic police stations in Bangalore and found that the number of seized vehicles in good condition has crossed 500.
Rows of unclaimed motorbikes are found at many stations. Many of them would fetch at least `40,000 in the second-hand market.
R T Nagar police have formed a special team to trace owners of vehicles confiscated for drunken driving, lack of insurance papers, driving without licence and parking in no-parking zones.
Kengeri police said they have become so frustrated that they have sometimes paid fines from their own pockets and asked the owners to take back their vehicles.
Over the last two months, the police have managed to track down owners of around 100 such vehicles. “We persisted and got them to take their vehicles away,” a policeman attached to the station said.
In Madiwala, the police are ready to auction 56 unclaimed vehicles. In Fraser Town, the number is 40. Elsewhere, the numbers are lower: Mico Layout (26), Adugodi (20), Sadashivanagar (13) and Kumaraswamy Layout (10).
The problem has worsened after the night deadline was extended. Ashok Nagar police, who usually catch a huge number of motorists riding in the MG Road area, are desperate to clear their station yard. Many policemen have been deployed just to track down owners.
Home Minister K J George had promised two-and-a-half acres to park seized vehicles, but authorities haven’t yet identified land for this.
“It is against the rules to let drunk drivers go, but we have no choice,” said an inspector.
B Dayananda, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said most owners don’t reclaim their vehicle for fear of court procedures. Some vehicles are stolen, while some others are too old for owners to bother reclaiming.
“In drunken driving cases, we wait for three to four days, and if the owner doesn’t turn up, we call him,” Dayananda said.
Police need space to park their own vehicles, and also vehicles they tow away from no-parking zones.
But they often find it difficult to identify the owner as the address registered with the Regional Transport Office is often that of the first owner.
If they can’t locate the owner, the police write to a magistrate and he then issues a gazette notification containing details of unclaimed vehicles.
“If no one turns up for a month, we issue a notice in various newspapers and put the vehicles up for auction,” added Dayanand.