In HCMC, seized vehicles go to police lots to die

By Dinh Van   March 19, 2023 | 05:29 am PT
In HCMC, seized vehicles go to police lots to die
Thousands of seized vehicles are exposed to the elements at a storage area of the police of HCMC's Binh Tan District. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
Thousands of motorbikes and cars seized in HCMC for traffic violations or crimes are left exposed to the elements for years.

Over 1,300 motorbikes have gathered dust for years in a 2,000-m2 police lot in District 6. Many of them have become badly damaged over time, and with the storage running out of space, hundreds of others are left out in the elements.

To prevent them from bursting into flames in the heat of the sun, they are occasionally hosed.

Some 10 km away, thousands of other vehicles lie in another lot belonging to the Binh Tan District police. New and old vehicles alike are stacked on top of each other.

There is row after row of vehicles for hundreds of meters, but no fire alarm or even a fire extinguisher.

In the city, there are around 90,000 vehicles with the police either seized following traffic violations or as evidence in criminal cases.

Regulations require storage areas for seized evidence to comply with safety standards, including firefighting systems and protective fences. They must also have roofs to protect the stored items from the elements.

But several police divisions do not have storage areas that meet these requirements, and thousands of vehicles are left at the mercy of the elements.

The risk of fire is ever-present.

In June 2022 some 300 motorbikes and four cars burned down in a traffic police holding area in Thu Duc City. Another fire in a parking lot belonging to the Thu Duc City traffic police burned down over 70 motorbikes.

A District 6 police spokesperson said there are many traditional markets in the neighborhood, and people often use unregistered makeshift vehicles to transport goods to and from them.

Many of them are seized, but their owners never come to get them back since they are not worth the fine. As the vehicles kept stacking up, the lot becomes overloaded, the officer said.

District 6 authorities have to pay VND107 million ($4,550) to rent a place to keep the seized vehicles.

But while money to rent lots for seized vehicles must come from auctioned vehicles, the District 6 police have only managed to raise VND200 million in this fashion. Since the rent is over VND3 billion, it has sought funds from the Ministry of Public Security.

The long periods for which seized vehicles remain with the police also contributes to the overloading.

A year from the date of seizure the police get ownership of a vehicle if its owner does not show up. A committee then evaluates the price of the vehicle to auction it among other procedures.

The entire process takes around two years, while 300 new vehicles are seized in the city every month.

Tran Thai Nam, deputy head of the District 6 traffic police, called for reducing the time for finding the owner of a vehicle from a year to three months to speed up the auction process and free up space.

He also suggested introducing new regulations to dissuade people from leaving behind their vehicles altogether like making it impossible for them to register a new vehicle.

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