On any given day there are hundreds of junked vehicles on Anchorage streets and police say citizens can help by reporting them.

Vehicles that haven’t moved in 72 hours can be considered abandoned. Vehicles that are not registered, inoperable or stripped down can qualify for junk status if parked in a public street or right of way.

The place to report them is APD’s Junk Vehicle Hotline by calling 907-786-8830.

Michelle Goldstein is one of three APD Community Service Officers who respond to junk vehicles

Michelle Goldstein is a community service officer with the Anchorage Police Department who responds to calls about abandoned vehicles. She explained how the system works.

Goldstein said callers will get a recorded message where they can leave a description of the vehicle, it’s location and how long they believe it has been there. They don’t have to give their name.

The message is checked every morning, Monday through Thursday, and the information is forwarded to Goldstein or one of the other two community service officers in the municipality.

Goldstein said callers won’t get a call back but they can be assured that once the vehicle is reported it will be investigated.

“They don’t have to keep calling in the same vehicle; we're on it,” she said, adding that once a vehicle is on her list it isn’t removed until the situation is resolved.

But how long that will take is a frustration to some.

Goldstein said the process can easily take weeks, especially considering how few community service officers there are to do the job. Once she gets to a vehicle, Goldstein usually starts with a red tag — a warning to let the owner know the vehicle is in danger of being towed.

The red tag can stay on for days to give the owner every opportunity to get it off the street.

“The way that we really like to look at this is, it’s a progression of enforcement to get to compliance," Goldstein said.

If an abandoned car or truck hasn’t moved in a reasonable amount of time, Goldstein will put a white tag on it. That means the vehicle will be impounded if there is no response. At that point, the vehicle will generally be towed within a day or two.

According to APD, 574 vehicles have been white-tagged so far this year. Of those, 482 were impounded. Another 118 were missing when tow operators showed up to take them away.

Goldstein said some of the cars she responds to have been stolen. In that case, a uniformed officer will make a report and every opportunity will be made to contact the owner before the vehicle is towed for safe keeping.

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