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Searching Abandoned Vehicles

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  • Searching Abandoned Vehicles

    Hi guys,
    I have been searching for the answer with no luck.

    I spoke with some of the other guys at work and we all agree we can do it. But what gives us the legal authority to go inside an unlocked abandoned vehicle parked on the side of a highway and to search for information regarding the owner of the vehicle? I.e insurances, bills for names, addresses, and phone numbers.

    I remember talking about it in the academy 7 years ago. But where can I find the answer in print? Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I may be wrong here but the way I see it, it's found property, abandoned AND it is in a lane of travel. It has to be towed, although I know that's not your question, but when we/i tow something an inventory must be conducted to make sure that there is nothing illegal inside, on, or attached to the vehicle. Now I know we all like to articulate things, so please note I said inventory and not, search the vehicle. In addition you might could go as far to say there might not even be a reasonable expectation of privacy since its unlocked, unattended and in the middle of a public roadway. Having said all that, I'm not sure exactly where it written in black and white.

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    • #3
      I imagine you are covered by the community caretaker function of the police, as well as the fact that abandoed property and vehicle invenories are exceptions to search warrant requirements.

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      • #4
        Abandoned property has no expectation of privacy.

        United States Supreme Court “has long held that the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches does not apply to property that has been voluntarily abandoned, because society does not recognize an expectation of privacy in abandoned property as being objectively reasonable.”
        http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/SCO...2/jp061312.asp

        It's a case from the Ohio Supreme Court but it draws from US Supreme Court Rulings, pretty interesting read, and explains abandoned property pretty well.
        "To hell with a supervisor, men follow a leader" -Texas Ranger Captain Allee

        "Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death."
        -Sun Tzu

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        • #5
          Found some very wild things in glove boxes looking for owner info.Always wear gloves is all i can say.

          Fun to leave said objects in passenger seat also just so when the owner comes back he knows someone had been by

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          • #6
            Started to ask if you couldn't get owner info from the LP or the VIN, but around here there are a lot of vehicles that are sold and titles never transferred.

            You don't "search" the vehicle, you "inventory" it in preparation for impounding. Absent any documents that would prove otherwise, you go with the registered owner from DMV.
            Officer Jay McGuire, Minneapolis Park Police EOW 5/14/2009 age 11
            Among Texas' finest
            Deputy Andy Taylor, Llano County SO EOW 5/9/2005
            Senior Deputy Jessica Laura Hollis, Travis County SO EOW 9/18/2014
            Darren H. Goforth, Harris County SO EOW 8/28/2015

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BaylorBearSW View Post
              Abandoned property has no expectation of privacy.



              http://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/SCO...2/jp061312.asp

              It's a case from the Ohio Supreme Court but it draws from US Supreme Court Rulings, pretty interesting read, and explains abandoned property pretty well.


              Agreed. Also, if your department (like most do) has a policy on impoundments it should state you shall inventory the inside of the vehicle for any items of value. This limits you and the department from liability in case the owner of the vehicle states you stole the "brief case of $10,000", etc.

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              • #8
                ^^^thanks. I appreciate all the feedback


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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