My car was being held as part of an investigation, while it was in police custody, it was broken into and personal effects were stolen along with the catalytic converter, it was one of several cars.

A week or so ago a random boy showed up to the house with an ID card that belonged to one of my family members, and a couple other personal items, all of which were in the car, in the impound.

What recourse do I have in a sitaution like this?

1 Answer 1


A person who impounds your vehicle has a duty to keep the vehicle secure until it is released, so you might be able to sue the operator of the lot for damages. An exception would be if the lot is actually operated by the government. Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, you can't sue the government for messing things up, unless they have passed a law allowing themselves to be sued, which is unlikely. So it depends on who exactly had the vehicle, and in what jurisdiction. Your lawyer could tell you whether you have any recourse. You might be able to take advantange Baker v. City of McKinney, which made a federal case out of police property destruction, via the Takings Clause.

  • A recent case on police breaking into a house and trashing it succeeded by claiming specifically eminent domain rather than negligence or whatever. The government has a constitutional responsibility to provide compensation to whoever they take property from under eminent domain. But a car impound is not "public use", so it probably wouldn't apply here.
    – user253751
    Apr 11, 2023 at 19:00
  • 2
    However, it seems that the car was impounded for a "public use" of investigating a crime, analogous to the Texas public use of enforcing the law and leaving the house. It's at least worth considering.
    – user6726
    Apr 11, 2023 at 19:13
  • That is very helpful and should at least help me get started in the right direction. Thank you.
    – Lance
    Apr 12, 2023 at 20:58

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