OT Should I tell the police?

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On 10/18/14, 10:03 AM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Found it... I think...
<http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e.htm#BK120
Section 6 (62) Red light in front "(15) In addition to the lighting requirements in this Part, a vehicle described in subsection (15.1) may carry lamps that cast a red light only or such other colour of light that may, with the approval of the ministry, be designated by a by-law of the municipality in which the vehicle is operated, but no other motor vehicle shall carry any lamp that casts a red light to the front. 1998, c. 35, s. 103."
(Outre les exigences en matière d’éclairage prévues par la présente partie, un véhicule visé au paragraphe (15.1) peut être muni de feux émettant une lumière rouge seulement ou une autre couleur qui peut, avec l’approbation du ministère, être désignée par un règlement municipal adopté par la municipalité dans laquelle le véhicule est utilisé. Toutefois, nul autre véhicule automobile ne doit être muni d’un feu émettant une lumière rouge à l’avant. 1998, chap. 35, art. 103.)
Where is Inspector Clousseau when I need him to translate! I'm surprised the police officer could see the map light from in front of the vehicle. I haven't found any restrictions on reflectors. (Naturally, I would have removed my red tape if I thought it presented a confusing appearance.)
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<stuff snipped>

Cars are routinely stolen to rob banks, kidnap people, transport drugs, etc. As a former police reporter I can think of a dozen nefarious reasons why that car is sitting there. I realize your heart's in the right place and your experiences with HOAs are guiding your actions but some of us believe that you are postulating all sorts of *good* things about why the car is apparently abandoned and ignoring all sorts of *bad* reasons it might be.

That's definitely debatable.

Are you sure? Perhaps they would run the plate and knock on the door of the owner to make sure he/she wasn't lying there with a broken leg, praying that someone would come and check on them. I know you believe you're doing the owner a service, but there just aren't enough facts to be sure. It's just impossible for you or anyone else to tell from what little we know *why* that car is sitting there with a flat tire.
I suspect what you're doing reflects how *you* would want to be treated if you had gone on vacation and left the car there, but what if you had fallen and had been lying on the floor for days? That recently happened to my ex-boss, FWIW, and that event had very serious consequences for him - he had to move out of his house to an assisted care facility because he suffered a series of mini-strokes lying on the floor for four days.
So it's quite natural for our differing experiences to shape our ideas of what may have happened or might happen. I have recurring nightmares of my car going missing because of years spent in NYC living with alternate side of the street parking. If you forgot to wake up before 5AM to move your car, it got towed. Back then it was expensive and inconvenient and my friends tell me now it's incredibly expensive and unbelievably inconvenient. So I get why you acted in the way you did. If you can prevent that from happening to someone, it's a mitzvah, to be sure. But there are some gotchas here.

That certainly could be one scenario, and I'll agree it's likely, especially since you've been able to determine (unless the cops were shining you on!) that it was not stolen and that it was already "red tagged." (Maryland cop speak for a notice of abandonment.)
My problem is that as professional catastrophist, I can postulate a scenario where having pumped up a tire that's leaking could be a very bad thing. Maybe it has a nail in it. With you pumping it up (but not actually inspecting or repairing the tire) the driver may not realize he could be in danger. If he drives off and hits highway speeds that nail could pop out and cause a blowout causing him to lose control. How much would your good deed be worth to him in that case? So get out your jack and tire repair kit, Micky or plaster a huge note on the car that couldn't be missed, even at night by someone in a hurry, explaining you've been pumping up the tire.
In my experience, no one would reasonably suspect a good Samaritan would be pumping up his flat tire. Therefore he would not suspect there was a defect that needed correcting.
Do you leave you house and car for long periods of time without having a neighbor or friend collect mail and check on the property? This person apparently didn't have anyone checking on his car and IMHO, that's stupid if there are no extenuating circumstances.
Having the car towed (if indeed that even happens from an interaction with the police) might serve as a valuable lesson not to leave next time without arranging for someone to check things out while he/she is away.
Ironically, I am sure had this person asked you to check on his vehicle periodically, you would have because you're willing to pump up his/her tire so we know you're quite willing to help out your neighbors. The error here is the car's owner not making those arrangements - if this is a case of someone traveling and not anything more sinister.

There's a legal process for dealing with abandoned vehicles that's designed to avoid such a problem. It's nice that you're concerned but the best thing to do would be to contact the police and follow-up on what happens. Especially if you phrase it as you have done with us. "I think this is a neighbor that might have taken ill suddenly or had to leave the area without arranging for a neighbor to monitor his house/car - can you help me?"

One person you talked to said that. I can't help but think, like the IRS, ask a different person and you'll get a different answer. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Micky, it tolls for thee. In other words why not undertake your own investigation and knock on your neighbor's doors indicating your concern for the owner and asking if anyone knows who owns the car? In for a penny, in for a pound. I realize that could trigger the very towing process you're seeking to avoid, but if there's an illness, injury or some other foul play afoot, it seems like it's the only way to be sure you're actually helping.
As you've pointed out, there's a lot of variability in police response and they're highly unlikely to break in (especially on private property) but if you expressed your concern for his welfare they might knock on his door or inquire with a neighbor. I know the police have been getting a bad rap lately, but they're not monsters and a lot of them do see their job as to "protect and serve."

Police do "welfare checks" all the time. It sounds like you've convinced yourself they are almost always odious bastards who can't wait to swoop down and tow a car without lifting a finger to determine if there might be a reason the car was left with a flat tire and unchecked for days or weeks. I don't share that opinion and if you expressed that you thought it might be an elderly neighbor in duress to them, I think they would respond appropriately, knocking on his door - since they can run his plate and get his address (and if no answer, a neighbor's) to ascertain his whereabouts and welfare.

I hope that you see by wanting to stay anonymous, you've actually made yourself suspicious. I wouldn't have any concerns about giving my name and number to the local police when reporting something unusual and have done it many times. They get "pranked" all the time and are much more likely to investigate/cooperate/act positively if they have the citizen's information. And they are much less likely to believe you're a stalker that wants the driver's information for nefarious reasons. They get that number run by them all the time which makes them extra cautious - sometimes to the point of making them seem unconcerned or indifferent.

If your interactions have been like mine, they are incredibly variable depending on who you talked to, what their workload is for the time your called, etc. I've had them respond to a suspicious person call in under two minutes (and make an arrest) whereas other times, they arrived after the suspect was long gone (hours afterward). It's hard to come up with a legitimate evaluation of police services based on the interactions of just one person (yourself, in this case). It's also possible you've gotten onto their "crank list" and therefore all bets are off. (-:

You can rest assured that they do. I believe in Baltimore all calls to any police telephone number for public access are not only caller ID'ed but recorded.

"I'm

Perhaps not overt accusations but sometimes even a blind pig finds a truffle. They might have figured out from your desire to remain anonymous that you think encounters with them end badly and they will respond indifferently or worse.
Even though you are polite I think they've pegged you as just a little weird as in why on earth would you NOT want to give your name, especially, as if you've theorized, you're doing a good deed for this citizen. By wanting to remain anonymous, I think it's clear that you believe the interaction will be negative, not positive, and I strongly believe that's not something you want to indicate, especially if you want their help in IDing the owner of the car *without* towing it.
I just hope all your positive suppositions are correct and our negative ones are wrong. The problem is that the positive interpretations mean perhaps a costly and annoying tow but the negative ones mean someone may have died because no one checked on their welfare. You talked about living with yourself if the guy got towed. Could you live with yourself if you actions turned out to delay live-saving help from arriving? I'd judge the latter to be a far less "livable with" situation.
I'd say your next step is to canvas door-to-door like a cop and get the real story behind this car. I had some moron ride up pretty far onto my property and put his bike behind my van in my driveway this weekend, then pound on my door. I was lounging around in my BVDs, and didn't know him so I ignored him (he was clearly a low-life). So I watched it all on the CCTV and when he started going into the backyard and walking all around the house I finally put my pants on and came outside with my taser in my jacket pocket.
I assure you I was pretty pissed off because he was spending a lot of time fiddling with something right behind my van that I couldn't quite see from the angle of the CCTV camera (ordered a new one to get a better view!) I got especially torqued when he wouldn't leave immediately when I said to leave my property after saying he was looking for Randy, the name of the drug-dealing neighbor that lived across the street in Section 8 housing until the DEA came for him early one morning. Then I *knew* he was a low-life SOB. It wasn't until I pulled out the cell phone and dialed 911 that he even began to make motions towards leaving. He wanted to know where Randy went.
I can only imagine how I would feel if I came outside and found him effing with my tire! Actions like that are very easy to misinterpret even if the intentions are innocent.
So now it's time to canvas your neighbors who I believe will be helpful and understand you're trying to be helpful too. I think they'll appreciate that you'd do them same for them and would be worried about their cars being damaged if they were towed, especially if the car ended up sitting idle because of some sort of emergency.
I think you might recall when we had a similar situation in my neighborhood and the a-hole Iranian living across the street took offense to the next door neighbor parking his work truck in front of MY house overnight. He called the parking authority and the city inspectors came along and wrote everyone on the street up for every infraction they could find. I got tagged for not having enough pea stone in my unpaved driveway. I mention that just by way of cautioning your neighbors if they invite the "tow monster" into their neighborhood, he might do more harm than good.
Just make sure to check for the smell of death as you canvas the neighborhood looking for the car's owner or someone who knows who owns it. (-: FWIW, I believe the man suspected of killing Virginia resident Heather Graham was caught because an astute observer called in his license plate somewhere in Texas as "not being where he belonged." So even though his car was not stolen, the plate was flagged as being wanted in connection with an investigation and certainly could end up being the key to solving one if not several murders of young women.
--
Bobby G.



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So, what's the final outcome of this saga? Did the car's owner ever return? Was it towed? Are you still pumping up the tire? Whatsup?
--
Bobby G.




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