3 challenges when moving cars in police custody (and how to solve them)

Stringo car mover used in police custody.

Working in the police force, what are the main challenges when moving and storing vehicles that you hold in custody? And what tools can you use to ensure safe and efficient operations – without compromising forensic evidence? Find out in this article.

Storing and moving cars is not a core job for the police. Or shouldn’t have to be. In reality, however, you might find that managing the various vehicles that are taken into custody every day – for reasons ranging from illegal parking to homicide cases – often makes up a disproportionately large share of your department’s daily work. At least if you’re relying on inefficient methods such as car dollies, vehicle skates, or manual pushing.

Without the right equipment, what should be a minor task instead requires vast amounts of both storage space and man hours. Not to mention the risk of injuries when you’re moving cars in an uncontrolled manner.

Why moving vehicles is extra challenging for the police

What are the safest and most efficient ways to tackle the issue? We’ll get to that in a little while. First, let’s take a closer look at the three factors that make vehicle moving particularly difficult in a law enforcement context:

1. Locked and/or damaged cars

Vehicles that end up in police custody have often been involved in accidents and are too damaged to drive. Others have been towed away because they’ve been illegally parked and are locked with no access to a key. In other words, you can’t simply drive them – even if you’d want to (which you wouldn’t in an indoor setting).

2. Chain of custody

In severe cases, the vehicles you encounter have been used in crimes such as robbery, drug trafficking, or even murder. Handling these vehicles without contaminating evidence is crucial. Ideally, in order to maintain an unbroken and traceable chain of custody, you shouldn’t touch them at all.

3. Unpredictable storage time and collection

Regardless of why the vehicle was taken into custody, there is often a rightful owner who, at some point, will reclaim their car. If that’s not the case, seized vehicles may instead be auctioned off to a new owner. And if the car is part of a crime investigation that turns into a court case, you will need to store the car during the entire process. This can sometimes take several years.

As a result, your police departments won’t know how long you need to keep different cars in your custody, or in which order they will be collected. This, in turn, makes it difficult to use your limited storage capacity efficiently. In this article on vehicle storage at the Spokane Police Department, the Evidence Supervisor likens the challenge to “a big game of Tetris”. Does that sound familiar to you and your colleagues?

A single-operator tool enabling safe and efficient vehicle moving

If you’re struggling with the challenges above, you might be interested in how other police departments handle locked or damaged vehicles without contaminating evidence or putting co-workers at risk. If they’re lucky, they have access to an electric vehicle mover that enables a single person to move cars quickly and safely – even in tight spaces – without laying a finger on them.

According to Bengt Becker, part of the Global Sales team at Stringo, police departments typically opt for a four-wheel vehicle moving solution, which allows the car to be moved with all wheels locked.

“This is particularly helpful for EVs, as well as cars with an electric or manual parking brake engaged,” he explains.

Two four-wheel-moving solutions that are popular with the police

As the world’s leading manufacturer of vehicle movers, Stringo offers two options in this category: a dedicated Four-Wheel Mover (4WM) or the DuoMover; a flexible add-on that turns any of Stringo’s classic 2-wheel-moving models into a 4-wheel-moving solution.

Which one is the better choice? It depends on your needs and your budget, says Bengt:

“The 4WM lifts all four wheels of the car very quickly with one-button control. The DuoMover requires a tiny bit of manual work but is a more flexible option, which is good if your needs vary. It’s also less expensive than the 4WM”.

Every Stringo is made-to-order to fit the vehicles and facilities where it will be used. The machines can also be customised and fitted with additional safety features:

“Police customers often ask for our patented automatic roller planes with integrated rollover protections as an extra safety precaution for their employees”, says Bengt.

Find out how a vehicle mover saves the day (and money)

Investing in an ergonomic and emissions-free tool brings more benefits than a safe and healthy work environment for you and your colleagues in the police force. Want to find out more? Don’t miss our article on how the Spokane Police Department uses a vehicle mover instead of hiring tow trucks – saving vast amounts of taxpayers’ money. 


Video & Image Copyright © Spokane Police Department