COLORADO SPRINGS — Broken down vehicles and stolen cars are just some of the abandoned vehicles being towed from neighborhoods in Colorado Springs every day. News5 takes a deep dive into the city's abandoned vehicle problems and why it's an issue taxpayers should be aware of.
At the Colorado Springs Police Department's north impound lot where abandoned vehicles are kept, so many are coming in each month that there are concerns this lot might not be able to hold all the cars if the trend continues.
"We definitely have an issue. I've been here 8 months and every month we get an increase in vehicles," said CSPD Impound Supervisor Adrian Pruitt. "Most of the abandons are in some level of disrepair, broken down, flat tires cracked windshields. So, if we continue in the swing we are at now behind me we're going to have to expand our lot which is going to cost the city quite a bit more money."
The numbers back up the concerns of those working the Colorado Springs impound lot. Reports of abandoned vehicles do appear to be trending up and more than 1300 vehicles have had to be managed by the impound lot.
"A lot of times we'll see a sign in the window or a sign in the back or front license plate saying either the vehicle is broken down or waiting for DMV appointments," said Pruitt.
This heat map News5 acquired from the city shows these abandoned vehicles are popping up in neighborhoods citywide.
If this trend doesn't change...
"It becomes a manpower issue, more money requested from the city budget to try to fund these operations," said Pruitt. "And just to put security on this lot without expanding is about half a million dollars. If you talk about expansion you're easily over the million dollar mark."
News5 found a majority of the abandoned vehicles are being reported through the city's GOCOS! app.
"Month after month we are seeing more abandoned vehicles reported that tells us this is a problem that needs attention," said Community Engagement Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs Jacob Anderson.
Community Service Officers (CSOs) like Kevin White are the ones who go out to follow up.
"Sometimes we will see cobwebs growing out of tires or weeds growing up through the tires and parts of the car itself," said White. "We do actually find stolen vehicles when people call in abandoned vehicles so I don't want to tell people to stop calling them in."
With this high volume of abandoned vehicles filling up space here, impound lot managers say in some cases it's a sign of tough financial times brought on by the pandemic.
"If you do find yourself in that situation I would rather that you reach out to us and see what we can do to help you out. Not only returning your vehicle, but we have been exploring other options and there's been people in the community who have joined us to help get people back on the road and back on their feet with their vehicle," said Pruitt.
News5 is told just 5% to 10% of the owners of abandoned vehicles show up to claim them. This leaves the taxpayers and city to foot the bill for managing what's left behind.
For now, the increase in abandoned vehicles is a complex issue that lacks a clear solution.