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Abandoned RVs costing tow truck drivers thousands

Even salvagers and the landfill will not take them until a hazmat service cleans the vehicles, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 6:34 PM
Updated: Nov 14, 2019 7:17 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Local tow truck businesses claim that formerly lived-in vehicles that have been abandoned are becoming costly problems.

Clayton Trzesniewski, owner of Alpha Towing and Recovery, said that he currently has five abandoned recreational vehicles on his property that he can't do anything with. He said some people living in vehicles will abandon them on his customers' private properties when they become too unsanitary.

"Nobody wants to live there. They are uninhabitable. They are full of biohazards, needles, drug paraphernalia, different bodily fluids," he said.

Once the abandoned vehicles are off of his customers' properties and on his lot, nobody claims them or will buy them because of their poor condition. Even salvagers and the landfill will not take them until a hazmat service cleans the vehicles, which can cost thousands of dollars.

According to Trzesniewski, as the vehicles pile up, his overhead continues to grow.

"It definitely impacts your business," he said. "I've had one for over a year now because I'm not willing to go through the costs on that one because I know that it has asbestos in it, and I know it's going to need all of the tanks pumped on it."

Joshua Sulens has lived in his car for about a year and a half while saving up for college. He said living in a car and avoiding tows and tickets is also an immense challenge.

"This morning I parked my car for the first time in a spot, and when I came back, I had a red tag because I had a sleeping bag in my front seat," he said. "Everyone realizes that this is an issue, but nobody wants it in their neighborhood. So it's kind of like, 'Hey, I get that you are trying to pay for college, but can you park two blocks over, not by my house?'"

According to Trzesniewski, state laws allow fifteen days for people to claim their vehicles after they have been towed, and they can pick up medications and other essentials for free. He said he is sympathetic to homeless people who look to vehicles as cheap shelter, but those who abandon them in poor condition need to be stopped.

"There is definitely no one-size-fits-all, no one-hammer-for-every-nail solution to this," he said.

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