Policy: Abandoned Vehicle Procedure


The purpose of this order is to establish the procedures for the removal and disposal of abandoned vehicles.


It is the policy of the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) that abandoned vehicles shall be managed pursuant to current rules, laws and ordinances.


Abandoned Vehicle

An abandoned vehicle is one which has remained on public or private property for a period of 48 hours after a Department employee affixes an abandoned vehicle notice.


Identifying Abandoned Vehicles

A vehicle may be declared abandoned if:

Expired license plate; or no license plate

Vehicle is in disrepair (i.e. flat tires, exhaust system broken, leaking fluids, etc.)

Has not moved for a period of at least 48 hours after being checked at least two documented times, unless the vehicle has a current permit for the parking area in accordance with MSU Ordinances.

A citizen’s complaint was filed

Tagging Abandoned Vehicles

Complete an Abandoned Vehicle Notice and affix to the vehicle in a location where it can be readily observed

Complete an Abandoned Vehicle Worksheet.

Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and license plate in the Secretary of State’s (S.O.S.) computer for owner identification, status of vehicle and plates (stolen, etc.), and if the plates are out-of-state, check through the Law Enforcement Intelligence Network (LEIN)

Owner Notification

The registered owner shall be notified by mail at the address on the registration and after ten (10) days, the vehicle may be impounded as abandoned; unless other arrangements have been made with the owner.

The vehicle is considered abandoned if not moved within 48 hours.

The Department shall provide a ten (10) day grace period to allow the vehicle to be moved before processing, unless there exists an emergent need to move the vehicle or arrangements have been made with the owner.

Verifying Abandoned Vehicles

The following procedures shall be followed when removing a vehicle from University property:

Recheck the vehicle for stolen status

Take two photographs of the vehicle

Within 24 hours after the vehicle is taken into custody and removed from the scene, enter the vehicle into the LEIN system as an abandoned vehicle.

If the vehicle has been moved, the vehicle is not considered abandoned and this process must start over if the vehicle is found abandoned again.

Processing Abandoned Vehicles

All abandoned vehicles shall be placed in the Department’s impound lot until retrieved by the owner, secured party or disposed of in accordance with the current provisions of state law.

After the vehicle has been impounded:

The Records Office will enter the vehicle into LEIN using the information from the FLEX system and verify LEIN records as outlined in OPR15.

The Parking Office will generate the Michigan Secretary of State Form TR52.

Vehicle photographs will be kept electronically in the Parking Management System.

The registered owner shall be notified by mail stating that the vehicle has been impounded and provide information for fees owed. Document all attempts to contact the owner.

Supplemental incident reports to the original report taken on the TR-52 shall be completed as necessary, detailing each of the actions taken during the processing of the complaint.

Disposal of Abandoned Vehicles

Owner Retrieval

Simple Recovery

The owner may claim his/her vehicle by appearing with proof of ownership and paying accrued charges. A current driver’s license and valid registration (if the vehicle is to be driven away) or title (if the vehicle will be otherwise transported from the impound lot) will be needed as proof of ownership.

Contesting Abandonment or Fees

Follow the procedures listed on the TR-52.

An owner contesting abandonment or fees may obtain release of the vehicle by posting bond with the 54-B District Court equal to the amount owed for all fees.

If the court finds the vehicle was not properly deemed abandoned, the Department shall reimburse fees paid to them by the owner or the court shall return the bond.

Secured Party

If the owner does not redeem the vehicle or request a hearing within 20 days after the date of the notice, the secured party may obtain the release of the vehicle by paying all accrued charges.

Public Sale

Not less than 20 days after the disposition of the hearing, or if a hearing is not requested; but not less than 20 days after the date of the notice, the vehicle shall be offered for public sale by sealed bids.

If ownership cannot be determined, the vehicle may be offered at public sale by sealed bid not less than 30 days after a public notice has been published.

A public notice shall be published at least once in a newspaper having general circulation within Ingham County.

The public notice shall give the VIN and a description of the vehicle for sale; and shall state the time, date and location of the sale. The public sale shall be held not less than thirty (30) days after the public notice has been published and shall consist of auction bidding open to the public or by sealed bids. If sealed bids are received, the bidders shall receive a copy of their bid.

The money received from the public sale shall be applied in the following order of priority:

Towing and storage charges

Any additional expense incurred by the Department

The amount of the debt or the remainder, whichever is smaller, shall be forwarded to any secured party.

If there is no secured party, a reasonable attempt to forward money to the owner shall be made.

If the remainder of the money cannot be delivered to the owner, it shall become the property of Michigan State University and follow University protocols.

State of Michigan abandonment fees.

If there are no bidders on the vehicle, the Department will take one of the following actions:

Turn the vehicle over to the towing firm to satisfy charges against the vehicle.

Obtain the title of the vehicle for Department use, or use of Michigan State University by paying the towing and storage charges; applying for title to the vehicle; or holding another public sale pursuant to established procedures.

Registered Abandoned Scrap Vehicles

Registered abandoned scrap vehicle must meet the following criteria:

Must be on public or private property

Seven or more years old

Is apparently inoperable or extensively damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle so that it is operational and safe according to the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code would exceed the fair market value of the vehicle.

Is registered in accordance with the current provisions of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code or displays current year registration from another state.

Is not removed within 48 hours after an abandoned notice is affixed.

Within 24 hours after the vehicle is taken into custody and removed from the scene, it is to be entered into the LEIN system as an abandoned scrap vehicle.

The vehicle shall be placed in the Department’s impound lot until released by the Department or retrieved by the owner. This may take up to 30 days.

Release of Abandoned Scrap Vehicle

If the owner does not retrieve his/her vehicle or a hearing is not requested within 20 days of the notice, the vehicle shall be released to the custodian of the vehicle.

The TR-182 form will be completed in the same manner as the TR-52 form.

The vehicle must be released to the towing service within 24 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays; after the appropriate 20 day waiting period.

Unregistered Abandoned Scrap Vehicles

A vehicle that meets all the provisions as outlined under “registered abandoned scrap vehicle,” with the exception it is not registered in accordance with the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code; or it does not display a current registration plate from another state.

An Incident Report will be completed using a form TR-182 and follow the procedures outlined in the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code.