Junked Vehicle Policy could Violate Rights

A new law designed to rid the county of junk vehicles may be abusive, claims a man with nine inoperative vehicles on his property.

“I know it’s a little crazy, but I like my junk,” said Robert Crane, who has nine inoperative vehicles on his property in Ector County, Texas. A longstanding state law, and a new county policy that would enforce it, has Crane worried that it could threaten his right to keep his personal property.

They are not just heaps of metal to him; he claims to have an emotional attachment to the cars. One is the first car he ever drove and another is the second car he ever drove. A third is his mother’s ’50 model Mercury.

The new junked-vehicles policy in Ector County gives the environmental enforcement officer out of the county attorney’s office the authority to mark cars for towing if they have not been operable for 30 days on private property and 72 hours on public property. The policy was not designed to take people’s property against their will, says Ector County Attorney Scott Layh. It was designed to remove junk vehicles from the right of way and help residents remove junked vehicles voluntarily.

Crane said he intends to restore his vehicles and they all have sentimental value. Restoring vehicles is not a process that happens in 30 days. Layh agrees that there is a sense in the country that personal rights are being removed. “As an extremely conservative Republican, I hate how it seems that some of our personal and private rights have been trampled and removed on the federal level,” said Layh.

Environmental enforcement officer, Ted Yelley said they are not targeting antique cars and would work with the public. Crane said he is still not happy with the policy and is worried about what someone with worse intentions could do with the law in the future. “It provides a means for abuse if someone wants to so abuse the law,” said Crane. “It’s further erosion of our rights as property owners.”

However, Layh is confident no such abuses could occur. “There’s protections in place, through our jury system, through our legal system, that will keep that from ever happening,” he said.

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