Chattanooga City Council taking stab at old-car crime problem

Chattanooga City Council taking stab at old-car crime problem

October 31st, 2012 by Cliff Hightower in News

Rhonda Hankins, an employee who runs the front desk at Lockwood Auto Salvage, stands amongst 10 acres of scrap vehicles in East Chattanooga early Monday afternoon.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

The Chattanooga City Council directed the city attorney's office Tuesday to start drafting an ordinance to crack down on thefts of old cars being sold to scrap yards.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd came before the council during a Legal and Legislative Committee meeting and asked for the ordinance.

Dodd described how some thieves were picking cars up off the sides of roads and then selling them without a title to scrap yards. Tennessee law allows any car over 12 years old to be sold to a yard without a title.

Councilman Jack Benson broke in at one point with a suggestion.

"Why not by ordinance we require what the pawn shops do?" he asked. "Daily reporting."

"That's what I'm here for," Dodd responded.

Dodd proposed an ordinance that would require scrap yards to report to Chattanooga police on a daily basis the cars coming in. He also asked that permits be issued for wreckers so legitimate services can be distinguished from illegitimate ones.

He said there is also a problem with wrecker operators not having to call police when they pick up cars from the side of the road.

"There should be no one taking a car without calling in," Dodd said.

Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett said he would begin drafting an ordinance soon.

In other news, the council will vote next week on awarding the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition $75,000 to open an emergency shelter at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen for three months beginning in December.

Mary Simons, executive director of the coalition, said the money would be used to hire a temporary manager, support staff and security.

She said the amenities would be basic.

"It would not be fancy," she said. "It would be mats on a floor."

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.