Kansas City police targeting abandoned vehicles left on city streets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Abandoned vehicles littering roads are an eyesore and safety concern in neighborhoods across Kansas City, and now police are doing something about it through a targeted enforcement effort.

Flat tires and dented fenders are just some of the flaws on abandoned cars filling up streets in the Historic Northeast.

"We thought we'd try to get a head start and clean up the area, make a difference," said Ted Smith, Kansas City Police Department parking enforcement supervisor.

But Frank Spick was a little nervous when he first saw Kansas City, Missouri police parking enforcement near his home.

"I live upstairs actually and my mom lives downstairs and she came down and was like, 'I think a cop's looking at your car down there to tow it,'" Spick said.

He went outside and was thrilled to see what parking enforcement is up to.

KCPD is cracking down on abandoned vehicles, a complaint they hear a lot, especially in the northeast.

Spick said the car parked in front of his house has sat untouched for over two months.

"My old lady has to park over here across the street and she's pregnant. I'd much rather her park over here so she doesn't have to walk across the street at night," said Spick.

KCPD hasn't done a parking enforcement initiative like this one in years. But city ordinance says you can't leave a car parked on a highway more than 10 hours.  On city streets, the limit is two days.

So this week, officers are slapping warning stickers on suspected abandoned cars..

"Sometimes tires are low, then on the other side you can tell where the grass or leaves have piled up beside vehicle or there's debris up under the vehicle which give clues the vehicle hasn't been moved in a while," Smith said.

And come Friday, Nov. 16 if cars aren't moved, they'll be greeted with a tow truck and hauled away.

"Over time, these vehicles accumulate and it really does play an effect on the quality of life of residents throughout the Kansas City area," said Captain Tim Hernandez with KCPD's traffic enforcement unit.

Neighbors say it's not only an eyesore, but a safety issue. Narrow streets with cars lining  both sides can make it tough to drive. And if residents can't find a parking spot, some end up dumping their cars elsewhere.

"It's led to some pretty inventive solutions, which has included people parking on the sidewalk or parking in their front yard," said Bryan Stalder, president of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association.

Those are all reasons this abandoned car enforcement is deeply appreciated in the community.

"It'll be real nice to get our parking back," Spick said.

In the first day of this initiative, one parking supervisor tagged 135 suspected abandoned cars.

KCPD says past enforcements like this have an added bonus of recovering cars with warrants, or stolen vehicles.

This effort is focused on the Northeast, but anyone in the Kansas City, Mo. city limits can call in concerns about abandoned vehicles to the city's 311 action center, or report them online at kcmo.gov/311.