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Arrest for stolen car that was returned to owner opens up ‘can of worms’

By Robbie Owens

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    FORT WORTH, Texas (KTVT) — An arrest for a stolen car stirred up controversy about how Fort Worth police responded.

“This entire car was filled from top to bottom with just evidence, and other victims’ properties,” says Katie Crum at the repair shop where the recovered vehicle was towed.

Crum says she was initially grateful when she learned that police had made an arrest and recovered her teen daughter’s stolen car– but then that gratitude turned to frustration when she got to the impound lot and got a look at what was left inside. And what the arresting officer had apparently overlooked.

“When I opened it up, inside here in the cupholder there was a syringe and then some other drug paraphernalia. Behind the passenger seat here, on the floorboard, was a gallon sized baggie full of either some sort of powder drugs like meth, coke, I don’t know…and all of that was just left in here for me to take out of the impound with me.”

Crum admits that her teenager was reckless in leaving the vehicle unlocked with keys in her backpack, but claims that police were nonchalant about providing resolution for other victims that could accompany the arrest.

“So when I went out to the car, and I saw all of this evidence–and not just evidence to pin the theft on him– but, the stolen credit cards, the IDs, the bolt cutters, the headlamps, the crowbars, the drug paraphernalia, the drugs– there’s five additional charges that this person needs to be held for, you’re basically like ‘eh not worried about making him pay for anything’- and that’s not okay with me!”

So, Crum says she began to escalate her concerns up the chain of command.

“When I called the detective when I first opened the car, and asked ‘what am I supposed to do with all this stuff?’ And he’s like, basically just get rid of it. And I said `what about the credit cards and IDs?’ and I’m like literally begging him: please pay attention to this. This is at least 60-100 other people, other victims, whose resolution to their issues are sitting in the backseat of my car and you just want me to take them home and throw them in the garbage.”

Crum says she continued to complain.

“I was mansplained to,” says Crum. “I was treated like I was overreacting. I was told that this was just protocol, deal with it. And I went from the detective to his sergeant to the Lieutenant, hoping someone would stand up and say, `listen, we messed up. This is not the way we do things’, and nobody ever did. And that’s when I was like, I’m going to hold them accountable.”

So Crum turned social media into a megaphone– posting her account of what happened to a neighborhood mom’s Facebook group and says she soon learned that she was not alone.

She plans to gather supporters to present their concerns to the Fort Worth City Council next week as a group.

“We are so supportive and appreciative of the police in this neighborhood,” says Crum, “and to have such a grossly negligent situation happen, it’s just mind-boggling for everybody.”

Fort Worth Police have confirmed an internal investigation of the handling of the complaint is underway, telling CBS 11 in a statement:

“It is standard protocol for officers to conduct an inventory of a vehicle prior to being towed to the auto pound. If items of contraband, weapons, or items of value are located during the inventory, they are removed from the vehicle and tagged in our property room. Often times, it is difficult to discern what property belongs to the original owner and what has been left behind by the suspect, especially when the owner is not on scene when the recovery or arrest occurs. In this circumstance, Internal Affairs is trying to find out what exactly occurred at the time the vehicle was recovered and why the property that did not belong to Mrs. Crum was left in the vehicle.”

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