An article published in The Chronicle last week featured the plight of a Centralia family facing the costs of removing an RV that had been illegally dumped on their property.
According to Centralia Police Chief Stacy Denham, the article was instrumental in helping prompt tips to find the RVs owner and get it moved off the victim’s property.
“We didn’t really have a lot to go on and when the article ran. We started getting phone calls about who actually owned the RV,” Denham said.
Unfortunately, the tips only led to who was living in the RV last, not who actually owned it. That was, until the Lewis County Jail alerted Centralia police to a recorded call between an inmate and his girlfriend revolving around the abandoned RV.
Denham explained that in the phone call, the girlfriend told her boyfriend she was trying to get rid of the RV but dumped it in the wrong lot.
“Her boyfriend said, ‘well what are you gonna do with it? Are you gonna go move it?’ And she goes, ‘no I’m not gonna move it, it’s their problem now.’ So, that gave us everything that we needed to say ‘OK, there’s no contract, this is an illegal dumping, now we actually can prove a crime,’” Denham said.
Officers found the woman and cited her for illegal dumping and littering and directed her to move the vehicle or face going to jail herself. The RV was removed from the property it was dumped on.
“It worked out great,” Denham added.
He stressed that the additional tips, both from the public and the jail, help solve cases such as the abandoned RV.
“Nobody really knows what piece is gonna be the piece that we need to have, and once we get it and we have that information, it could be the piece we didn’t even know we were looking to be able to make a case and develop a case and be able to get a result,” Denham said.
Denham told The Chronicle last week that if a vehicle was abandoned on private property it is outside of the police department’s authority due to state law, though citizens can use a nuisance abatement to try to get the vehicle removed.
This process still requires the property owner to remove the vehicle themselves.
To report a crime that isn’t an immediate emergency, use the online crime reporting portal at https://www.cityofcentralia.com/306/Report-a-Crime-Online or call the Centralia Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch line at 360-740-1105.