In the fall of 2012, a citizen parked her vehicle in the street. The next day, her car was no longer there and another vehicle was parked in its place.  She called 911 to declare the theft of her vehicle. The 911 employee suggested that she first verifies with 311 (Réseau Accès Montréal) if her car had not, rather, been towed. The 311 employee answered that there was no information on her vehicle.

She then called back 911 which sent police officers to take her theft complaint. While waiting for the officers, the citizen called 311 again for additional verification: still no trace of her vehicle.

She declared the theft of her vehicle to her insurer and, later, purchased another one.

One (1) month later, the police found her vehicle in a neighbouring street. The citizen was then told that her vehicle had been towed by Ville de Montréal four (4) weeks earlier.

Usually, the information regarding the towing of a vehicle should quickly be registered in the Info-Remorquage database so as to allow the owner to trace his vehicle as soon as possible. In reality, however, there were often delays. In this specific case, we found out the information was entered in the system twenty-six (26) hours after the towing had taken place which explains why there was no data on her vehicle, when she contacted 311.

In our opinion, such a delay for registering a towed vehicle was unacceptable!

Following our intervention, the procedure was modified. Now, whenever a parking agent requires that a vehicle be towed, he must immediately forward the information to his office for it to be registered in the database, as soon as possible.

Our investigation also showed that when the theft of a vehicle was reported, the police officers did not systematically consult the Info-Remorquage database. A vehicle towed at the City’s request could, therefore, be treated as a stolen vehicle. After discussions with the SPVM, the latter sent a memo to all police officers reminding them that they must consult the Info-Remorquage database before registering a stolen vehicle.

In conclusion: what happened to this citizen should not have occurred and we sincerely sympathize with her for this mishap that cost her much trouble and time.

This matter has nonetheless highlighted the necessity of improving procedures. We are certain improvements put in place will prevent other people from facing a similar situation.

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