§ 73.04  PROCEDURE.
   (A)   Sheriff’s Department procedure. An officer who finds a vehicle or parts believed to be abandoned, a traffic hazard or a vehicle parked in violation of traffic ordinance shall do the following:
      (1)   The police officer shall identify the vehicle or parts to be removed and classify the vehicle or parts as:
         (a)   Abandoned;
         (b)   A traffic hazard; or
         (c)   A vehicle parked in violation of a traffic ordinance.
      (2)   If the vehicle or parts are classified as abandoned, the officer shall attach in a prominent place on the vehicle or parts a notice tag. The officer shall also conduct an owner identification search. If the owner is known or identified, the police officer shall serve notice of hearing on the owner.
      (3)   The notice served on the owner and placed on the vehicle or parts shall contain the following information:
         (a)   The date, time, officer’s name, public agency, and address and telephone number to contact for information;
         (b)   That the vehicle or parts are considered abandoned;
         (c)   That a hearing will be held regarding the towing of this vehicle or parts;
         (d)   The date, time and place of the hearing which shall be no less than 72 hours after the notice tag is placed on the vehicle or parts;
         (e)   That the owner may avoid a hearing by removing the vehicle or parts prior to the date of said hearing and notifying the appropriate agency of said removal; and
         (f)   That the owner will be held responsible for all costs, incidental to the removal, storage and disposal of the vehicle.
      (4)   If the vehicle or parts are classified as a traffic hazard or a traffic violation, or if any other emergency exists requiring immediate removal of the vehicle, the vehicle or parts can be summarily towed or removed. Where the owner is identified, the police officer shall immediately serve a notice of hearing (concerning the towing or removal of the vehicle or parts) to be held at a designated time and place. Where the owner is not identified, the officer shall issue notice to the owner and a hearing shall be held within 48 hours of service of notice. Such notice shall state:
         (a)   The date, time, officer’s name, public agency, and address and telephone number to contact for information;
         (b)   That the vehicle or parts are considered a traffic hazard or parked in violation of a traffic ordinance;
         (c)   That the vehicle or parts have been towed or removed and the location of said vehicle or parts;
         (d)   That a post-tow hearing shall convene regarding the towing of this vehicle and the charges therefore;
         (e)   The date, time and place of the post-towing hearing;
         (f)   That the owner may reclaim the vehicle or parts prior to the hearing if the owner posts bond in an amount equal to the towing and storage fees; and
         (g)   That the owner must pay towing and storage fees if the officer finds in favor of the county. The owner will not be required to pay any charges and any bond will be refunded if the hearing officer finds in favor of the owner.
   (B)   If the owner is duly served with notice of hearing and fails to appear at the time and place specified, or if the owner appears and fails to establish non-violation of this chapter:
      (1)   The Hearing Officer shall prepare a written abandoned vehicle report of the vehicle or parts including information on the condition, missing parts and other facts that might substantiate that the market value is less that $500. Photographs shall be taken to document the condition of the vehicle or parts;
      (2)   If, in the opinion of the Hearing Officer, the market value of the abandoned vehicle or parts is less than $500, the Hearing Officer shall immediately dispose of the vehicle to a towing service. A copy of the abandoned vehicle report and photographs relating to the abandoned vehicle shall be forwarded to the Bureau. The Department shall retain the original records and photographs for at least two years; and
      (3)   If, in the opinion of the hearing officer, the market value of the abandoned vehicle or parts is $500 or more, the Hearing Officer shall require the vehicle or parts to be towed to a storage yard or towing service.
   (C)   The Hearing Officer or Officers contemplated by this section shall be a merit officer of the County Sheriff’s Department. All hearings will be held at the administrative building of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, 26861 C.R. 26, Elkhart, unless the notice to the affected owner or lienholder specifically states to the contrary.
(Ord. CC 06-1, passed 2-11-2006)