It Takes a Thief

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After the city of Chicago towed Adrienne Leonard's 2001 Kia Sephia, it demanded $1,000 for three parking tickets, towing and storage charges. Leonard could only come up with $700, so the city sold the car ? for $125.54. And Leonard is still liable for all the fees as well as the money she still owed on the car. It turns out a politically connected towing firm has a contract that allows it to buy all unclaimed cars—both those taken for parking violations and stolen vehicles recovered by police—for scrap prices. The firm, in turn, sells those cars at auction to the highest bidder, and neither the city nor the owners get any of the money.

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