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publickman

Speaking of snitches ...

Lars
last month

There was a car parked right in front on my house in Cathedral City that has not been moved for over a week. In fact, it was possibly parked there a month ago when I left to go back to L.A. for three or four weeks. Anyway, the law in CC is that cars cannot be parked without being moved for more than 72 hours, which seems like a short time for me, since I often leave my car in L.A. parked in front of my house for much longer than that.

When I found out from NextDoor about the 72 hour limit, I decided to report the car to the police, and I went out to take photos of it. It was a somewhat old BMW, but one of the side windows was repaired with black tape and other parts had been repaired with the same back tape. All of the windows were tinted black, so that no one could see in, and the windshield had a sunscreen.

In addition to this, when I went to photograph the back of the car, I noticed that the license plate had expired March 2022, and so I took a closeup photo of that.

I sent the photos to the Cathedral City police department at about 11 AM Saturday (yesterday) describing the car, and when I went to go grocery shopping a couple of hours later, there was already a brown note attached to the car's windshield.

When I got back from grocery shopping 45 minutes (or so) later, the car was gone.

I don't know whether it was towed or whether the owner saw the brown note and moved it, but I am glad it is gone. I think it is bad to have an abandoned car parked in front of one's house - it makes it look like no one is home, I think.

However, I did feel a bit bad about reporting this. What if this car belonged to a neighbor? I tend to think that it did not, but it may have belonged to a friend of a neighbor. Still, if they have an expired license plate and it is on the street, the police have the right to tow it.

What do you think happened? What would you have done?

I don't care if someone parks in front of my house - it usually makes it look like someone is home. But if a car is not moved for more than a week, then it makes it look like something very different.

Comments (60)

  • nickel_kg
    last month

    haha, FOAS, good one!

    Lars I think you were fair to give plenty of time for the owner to move the vehicle. When the police handled it the way they felt correct whatever they did was their decision, not yours.

    Lars thanked nickel_kg
  • HU-408592037
    last month

    I dont think calling about an apparently abandoned car a snitch. Who needs some old car at rest in front of their house? It isn't a good look at best and would certainly bring down the tone of the neighborhood not to mention the sort of person who would leave such a car in front of your house.

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  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Heavens to Betsy, lars, "snitching" stopped being something within your range of possibile activities when you went to junior high.

    You reported a parking violation. In a town like Cathedral City, I'm sure the authorities appreciate local residents reporting situations they don't have the ability to spot by driving up and down streets.

    jmm, you're in another country. Why would you assume the rules of any kind in the US would be similar to where you are? lars reported a parking length of time violation, such rules are common here and intended to prevent the kind of undesirable situations you describe as happening on your street. These are pretty common. As far as I know, oftentimes patrolling police who aren't in traffic or parking enforcement pay little attention to license status of parked cars. They have better things to concern themselves with.

  • Lars
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Here are some more photos that I took and sent to the police department:






    I'm not worried about showing the license plate number here, since I'm now convinced that it was stolen. I don't know why I did not figure that out earlier.

    The car looks fairly nice to me, and from a distance (without seeing the tape), it looked respectable.

    Once I got a better look, I had the suspicion that it might be abandoned, but it never occurred to me that it had been stolen. However, I was definitely surprised that it got towed so quickly, as I thought that having expired plates would not have warranted such a quick tow. That's why I posted here - to get a possible explanation.

    After a bit of time, it did seem odd to me that the car was in such good condition but still had a broken side window, but I thought a child could have done that with a baseball, or something like that.

  • jmm1837
    last month

    "jmm, you're in another country. Why would you assume the rules of any kind in the US would be similar to where you are?"


    I didn't assume, I asked.


    And as a matter of fact, the laws in your own state of California are very similar to those here in my neck of the woods. It is illegal to park an unregistered car on a public road in CA, and the car can be impounded on the spot if it has been unregistered for more than six months. Nothing unique at all about the US rules, it would seem.

    Lars thanked jmm1837
  • Lars
    Original Author
    last month

    Elmer, sorry that you did not see the subtle humor in the title of my thread.

  • foodonastump
    last month

    @Elmer J Fudd I’m curious how your response squares with your comments on my anonymous reporting thread, where you said, “Violations of building codes or local ordinances and the like - close your drapes if it bothers you, turn your head when you drive by. Don't appoint yourself to a vigilante posse. Mind your own business.” The street and a neighbor’s property are largely the same in that they are land in your neighborhood that you don’t own.


    https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/6260610/should-neighborhood-complaints-be-anonymous

    Lars thanked foodonastump
  • socks
    last month

    Foas…..don’t forget to pump the gasoline out in addition to the catalytic converter.


    We has a similar situation, waited far too long to make the call. When spider webs started anchoring the car to the ground, we decided it was time.

    Lars thanked socks
  • Suzieque
    last month

    Id have called, too

    Lars thanked Suzieque
  • lucillle
    last month

    Why would you assume the rules of any kind in the US would be similar to where you are?


    An excellent philosophical question. I would think any place that had roads especially those built at public expense would have an interest in seeing that they remained passable and not clogged with non working vehicles or debris.


    Other situations seem to be similar. If a nation, any nation, has people, it would seem to have an interest in creating rules that help prevent murder and theft, support some system of taxation and education, encourage business, and create a system of defense that would secure borders against unwanted takeovers.


    Do the rules of different nations differ? Of course, to a degree. But it seems that the basic incentives for every nation are the same, so while not word-for-word exactly alike, I think they would be somewhat similar.

    Lars thanked lucillle
  • blfenton
    last month
    last modified: last month

    And who knows - maybe it wasn't stolen and the police traced the owner, kicked the problem to the by-law dept who called the towing company and the owner has now received a ticket and notification of which impound lot the car is located.

    And I for one am always interested in learning what other places/countries do in different situations.

    The word "snitches" was used in the title of another thread and so made sense as a connection to that thread.

    Lars thanked blfenton
  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Ages ago on another planet, a jurist made a comment in these or similar words to express his view on what is obscene material- "I can't define it but I know it when I see it".

    food, I don't think there's a bright line between what's a legitimate concern and what's nosiness. But I think we all know nosiness when we see it. .

    I think that's involved with respect to nosey or busybody conduct. Does it affect you and your property itself or are you a self-appointed vigilante? Are you sticking your nose where it doesn't belong, involving yourself with something that needn't concern you? People know it when they see it. Have you ever heard terms like neighborhood busybody or neighborhood snoop? Such conduct is easily recognized.

    With the situation lars describes, it was a car parked in front of his house. It was a nuisance for him, for parking for his household and visitors. I would have checked with adjacent neighbors and maybe a few across the street, given it a few days, and then reported the nuisance.

    A tree removal, unpermitted construction, a leaking oil tank, a repeat offender not picking up dog poop or whatever, on someone else's property that has no actual effect on your property - not your concern.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "And as a matter of fact, the laws in your own state of California are very similar to those here in my neck of the woods. It is illegal to park an unregistered car on a public road in CA, and the car can be impounded on the spot if it has been unregistered for more than six months."

    Expertise from a Google search, from thousands of miles away on the other side of a large ocean. Another example of how word matches don't convey understandings or insights, most especially about laws on the books.

    Annual license fees are a major revenue source for the state in California. The rule mentioned is a kind of default consequence for abandonment. Parking an unregistered car on private property is also a violation of the licensing laws, did your search find that? There's a status called "planned nonoperation" which is an out for cars intended to be unused, something Californians know about because it's a box to check on the annual license renewal form. Absent complying with this section of the law, the car is out of compliance and can be seized.

    But alas, this particular rule is rarely enforced. It's a nuisance rule, not a licensing one, and licensing can be an excuse to remove a nuisance. This is an area where lower levels of government have their own laws - 72 hours in lars' town, whether the car is licensed or unlicensed. That's pretty common. In my neighborhood, no street parking is permitted. None. Find that in a Google search.

    Unenforced laws? Sure, there are lots of them. Do you know which they are and where? Unlikely, if the area being discussed is one the speaker has no personal experience with.

  • foodonastump
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Before I get the same treatment as jmm I’ll say I have no idea about CA laws, but here in suburban NY we have no exclusive parking rights in front of our houses. As both a courtesy and a convenience we tend to park in front of our own house, when parking on the street. So calling about a car parked there is no more or less about ”something bothering me” than someone building an illegal extension that encroaches on setbacks. On second thought, it’s far more petty.*** And certainly less consequential than an oil leak leaching into the groundwater supply.


    *** Lars I’m not calling you petty; I’d have reported it myself. Just making a point.

    Lars thanked foodonastump
  • Olychick
    last month

    So we can expect no comments from you on areas being discussed with which you have no personal experience? Or no info posted from google searches? We’ll see!

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "So calling about a car parked there is no more or less about ”something bothering me” than someone building an illegal extension that encroaches on setbacks."

    A setback violation by your neighbor next door affects you, as does someone else's car parked in front of your home for a period beyond what's permitted. Either happening down the street - why is that any of your concern? Do you walk up and down the street chalking tires (as parking enforcement people do in some areas) to determine who has stayed too long?

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "So we can expect no comments from you on areas being discussed with which you have no personal experience?"

    A wise adage I've heard many times is that truly clever people are more immediately cognizant of what they don't know than of what they do know, and are careful to not misrepresent the two when conversing with others. Informal conversations whether in person or online to me are personal info exchanges, not Jeopardy-like contests. When the source of information is secondhand, I think people normally and politely would say so. "Someone told me" or "I heard or read" or "I did a search and found...." . Otherwise, I think comments are just opinions and we all have those and to suggest that something from an unstated source is one's own knowledge is poor form.

  • foodonastump
    last month
    last modified: last month

    “Either happening down the street - why is that any of your concern?”

    I don’t recall proximity being discussed. ”Close your drapes” would suggest we were talking about close neighbors, not down the street.

    I don’t want to go back and forth too much more, I’m just happy to see tou agreeing it’s ok to call in someone illegally affecting your quality of life.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    I wouldn't take that expression too literally. Your oil leak and tree trimming examples on someone else's property, not directly affecting you, struck me as examples of busybody conduct.


    Don't look for trouble or controversy, you and others will be happier that way. Keeping your drapes closed is a good practice on hot days too!

  • jmm1837
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "Expertise from a Google search, from thousands of miles away on the other side of a large ocean. Another example of how word matches don't convey understandings or insights, most especially about laws on the books."

    Actually, I took my information about the law in California directly from the California Vehicle Code. Do carry on.

  • joyfulguy
    last month

    Does anyone else get the feeling that some excess baggage may have shown up around here ...

    ... carry-on or otherwise?

    ole joyful

    Lars thanked joyfulguy
  • roxsol
    last month

    Thank you for my laugh of the day ole joyful!

    Lars thanked roxsol
  • rob333 (zone 7a)
    last month

    My neighborhood was built before cars, and so no one has garages. We have ice houses that have been converted to garages, sometimes. The street in front of our house is basically our driveway. Across the street from my house is a parking lot for the church, and people can leave illicit vehicles there. Stolen or used in a crime. Maybe once a year. We always call, and they always investigate and take away the car. Within a matter of days. Abandoned vehicles are suspect.

    Lars thanked rob333 (zone 7a)
  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "Actually, I took my information about the law in California directly from the California Vehicle Code."

    Which you had sitting on your coffee table.

    Lots of laws are not enforced as those at a great distance with no knowledge other than from a word match might expect and wouldn't know about. You found one of hundreds, probably there are thousands.

  • sephia_wa
    last month

    "Have you ever heard terms like neighborhood busybody or neighborhood snoop?"

    How about someone being a Mrs. Kravitz? 🤣

  • jmm1837
    last month

    "Lots of laws are not enforced as those at a great distance with no knowledge other than from a word match might expect and wouldn't know about."


    I am going to make this as clear for you as I can. My original question (not assumption) was whether it is unlawful to park an unregistered vehicle on a public street in California.


    California Vehicle code art 360 states:

    “Highway” is a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street."

    Art 4000 (a) (1) states that:

    A person shall not drive, move, or leave standing upon a highway, or in an offstreet public parking facility, any motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole or pipe dolly, or logging dolly, unless it is registered...


    Therefore, in California, and in most if not all other US states, it is illegal to park an unregistered car on the street.


    Whether the law is rigorously enforced or not is irrelevant to the question of legality.


    Oh, and by the way, I don't need to have a copy of the California Vehicle Code sitting on my table to know what it says. There's this wonderful thing called the internet. You may have heard of it.

  • Lars
    Original Author
    last month

    The car came back and is now parked in front of the house exactly across the street from me:

    Photo taken this evening.

    I am guessing that this car belongs to the people across the street and that it was never stolen. I did not go across the street to check whether they had renewed their car registration, but I assume that they have.

    I do not know these people, but they bought this house a year ago - April 2021, and I saw moving trucks unloading some of their stuff but did not pay attention, other than to note that the house had been sold. This house is somewhat of a mirror image of our house, and they were both built at the same time, around 1991. The pool is identical to ours - not a mirror image like the house. The floor plan of this house is significantly different from ours (and not in a good way) and is 130 sq ft smaller. Still, it is a nice house, and not cheap for the neighborhood, but prices have been going up here rather rapidly.

    I don't know that this car belongs with this house, but I will notice how long it stays parked where it is now. I am still a bit suspicious about it, and if it stays in the same place for a week, I will go over and check the license plate to make sure that it has been updated. I don't care how long they leave it parked in one place, as long as they do not leave it for weeks in front of my house. I think they have probably gotten that message by now.

    I no longer think that it has been stolen, but I do wonder why they have not properly repaired the broken window.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    A law that isn't enforced can and will be ignored. Cops on patrol in my experience never spend an iota of time on lapsed sticker enforcement, they have better things to do. It may be a secondary matter cited in the case of a traffic stop, as with an expired driver's license but not otherwise. I think these days they have IT cameras to look at license plates they pass, but again, my understanding is that's to ID those with outstanding warrants, a BOLO or others on the loose. Of course you knew that was the case here in California.


    A classic example of a long unenforced and perhaps more serious matter (for some) are the cannabis laws. For the entirety of my lifetime, possession of personal use quantities or public use of cannabis has been illegal under federal law. It still is. For the entirety of my lifetime until 2016, cannabis possession in California was (for other than those with a medical marijuana card) illegal. Legal now but still against federal law, which overrides state law. Over 50 years ago when I was in high school, and probably before and most certainly since, obtaining cannabis products was easy (easier than alcoholic beverages) and relatively inexpensive. Overt use in public, including but not limited to use iublic parks and at indoor and outdoor music venues, was open and widespread. Why? Because the law was not enforced other than for possession of for sale quantities and when obtained in busts for other violations. Even the cops on crowd control at public places didn't give a diddly, it was ignored. Illegal and ignored. But, of course, your perspectives from Canada and Australia give you familiarity with this too, you get 10 points on your test (remember that conversations are not graded exams) but you fail the "do you realize and understand" part for insisting something to be how it isn't.

  • bpath
    last month

    It doesn’t hurt to be observant.

  • jmm1837
    last month

    Elmer - is it illegal to park an unregistered car in the street in California, yes or no? That is the only point germane to my initial comment.  And you fail the test for "do you realize and understand the actual meaning of the word 'illegal.'"

  • blfenton
    last month

    Those not interested in what's happening in my area please feel free to SOB.

    As of May 1 we will no longer have insurance decals on our license plates so there will be no way of knowing if that car sitting forever in front of my house has insurance or not. Also here, if you're parking your car on the street you don't have to have physical damage insurance but you do have to have liability insurance.

    Lars thanked blfenton
  • roxsol
    last month

    blfenton, I’m interested🙂

    Kind of on topic… I was interested in seeing that Lars had posted pictures of both a front and back plate on the car. Well….did I learn something! I thought everywhere had gone to a back plate only and here I find out through the Google thing that a lot of places, if not most, still use a front and back plate. We’ve had a single plate for years. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

    Ha! I learned something today.

    Lars thanked roxsol
  • foodonastump
    last month

    Yep, front and back here in NY. Reminds me, NY has changed plate design twice since we got my wife’s car in 2016 and I’ve never bothered to change them. Have two sets for her car and one for my truck on the shelf by my desk. Not illegal, but I wonder if it could attract cops’ attention.

    Lars thanked foodonastump
  • roxsol
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Again, through Google, I found out that Alberta has not required a front plate since 1991. I never would have guessed it was that long ago.

    FOAS, why were you issued a new set of plates just because the design changed? If the number stayed the same and the plates were in good condition why would you get new plates?

    Lars thanked roxsol
  • foodonastump
    last month

    It’s what they do. Once the design changes, next time you renew your registration (every two years) you have a choice of buying random new plates or spending a bit more and keeping the number. They don’t always change them this frequently; not sure why they have recently.

    Lars thanked foodonastump
  • foodonastump
    last month

    Just looked it up, seems to be a bit of controversy because of the cost. But the excuse for more frequent change is to have plates in better shape for cashless camera tolls. And red light cameras and plate readers, I imagine.

    Lars thanked foodonastump
  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    last month

    Insurance decals on license plates? Never heard of this - could you expand on this, @blfenton? I think you’re in Canada, correct?

    Lars thanked littlebug zone 5 Missouri
  • nickel_kg
    last month
    last modified: last month

    My state (Virginia) requires front and back plates. My sister said that in her neighborhood, there are two somewhat older cars often parked on the street, always nose to tail. No biggie but they share one set of plates! The front car has a license plate on its nose but nothing on its tail. The back car has no plate on its nose, just the other paired license plate on its tail. She considered notifying the city but decided not to. (I wouldn't call this sister a nosy person, she just walks a lot so would be in a position to notice odd license plates.)

    Lars thanked nickel_kg
  • likestonehomes
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    Decals, indicate the plate and insurance expiry dates. The 2 are linked together.

    Unfortunately, in BC there is only govt insurance. (Don't get me ranting about this ludicrous, price gouging, socialist insurance system.!) This is not the case in many other provinces, where one can choose their car insurer, such as Allstate etc.



    Lars thanked likestonehomes
  • roxsol
    last month

    likestones, Alberta did away with registration stickers last year and we’ve never had insurance stickers as we can choose our own insurer.

    We also keep our same plate year after year. We just have an annual renewal fee.

    Lars thanked roxsol
  • likestonehomes
    last month

    @roxsol Having lived in Alta snd Ont, It was sticker shock when we relocated to bc. The price difference for same ins. coverage was ludicrous! Now, Ont. has re-imbursed plate fees. Probably an election ploy!

  • blfenton
    last month
    last modified: last month

    We have to buy Liability insurance from ICBC (gov't insurer) but Collision can be bought from other insurers in the market. Anyway, probably more than others want to know.

    Lars thanked blfenton
  • Lars
    Original Author
    last month

    I like the BC type of govt insurance, as it greatly diminishes the number of uninsured drivers.

    I like many socialist programs - Social Security is one of them, along with schools, libraries, fire departments, etc that the government provides. I don't know why anyone thinks "socialism" is a bad idea. I can understand not liking communism, but that is quite another thing.

  • Elizabeth
    last month

    I would have called the police about that car too. Highly suspicious.

  • pudgeder
    last month


    Oklahoma has never had insurance stickers. We do have annual registration stickers that we're supposed to purchase, and then show proof of insurance when doing so. However, there are so many expired plates, I think 1/2 of the state is uninsured.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    California has a wide variety of license plate images, some called "special interest" ones that may have a background image of Yosemite, or a whale's tail, others are military related (Purple Heart Winner or Veteran), etc. And of course personalized messages as in other states, subject to DMV censorship for not being off-color. FLYBOY or LV2SAIL would pass. When the plates change, not that frequently, no one needs to get new ones. Rather, they do the transition gradually with newly issued license plates only in the new format and existing older format ones remain valid.

    All plates have the same format of a month sticker at the left (1/12 of renewals expire each month) and a color coded year on the right. I'm not sure the color coding does much because for a good portion of the year, the color on many cars may suggest the registration is expired (those with dates from May to Dec) while they would indeed be current. I once drove around for 3 months without my current year's renewal tag - it had come in the mail and my wife tucked it away somewhere and forgot to mention or give it to me. It would have come up had I been stopped for a traffic infraction but the cop's look up of the number would have shown I was current. I believe that's no problem anyway, what they care about is that everyone's annual fees go into the state's coffers. Fair enough.



  • likestonehomes
    last month

    “I like the BC type of govt insurance, as it greatly diminishes the number of uninsured drivers.” In fact, most, if not all, provinces require proof of insurance before renewing license plates.

    Lars thanked likestonehomes
  • OllieJane
    last month

    Oklahoma has never had insurance stickers. We do have annual registration stickers that we're supposed to purchase, and then show proof of insurance when doing so. However, there are so many expired plates, I think 1/2 of the state is uninsured.


    ^^^That cannot be right. I've seen statistics anywhere from 18 percent to 25 percent. The latter from a law firm advertisement-go figure.


  • Jasdip
    last month

    I like vehicles having front plates.....I love reading vanity plates :-D

    We don't have insurance stickers (in Ont) but we are required to show proof of insurance when renewing your license registration. We have the option of renewing annually or every two years.