Family members still drop Stefani Bohin off for work each afternoon at an area grocery store - even though her stolen car was recovered by police almost 11/2 months ago.

Bohin's '77 Toyota Celica remains unclaimed in a State Tax Commission impound lot because she is unable to pay a costly towing and storage fee. Although she is a crime victim, the West Jordan woman said she's being treated like a criminal."I was so happy when the police found my car. It meant I could be independent again," said the 20-year-old single mother. "But then I found out I would have to pay over $100 to reclaim my car because of storage fees. I only paid $500 for the car when I bought it two years ago. I can't afford to pay that much money just to get it back. I had to leave it at the impound lot."

While Bohin's car has not moved in weeks, her required claim payment jumps daily. An $8 fine is added to her owner-recovery fee each day the vehicle remains on the lot. In addition, Bohin was told by Tax Commission employees she is required to present proof of ownership before she can drive her car.

"The (automobile) title, registration, insurance papers - even my driver's license - were all in the car when it was stolen in the middle of October. I have to replace everything, and I don't have the money," she said.

Sandy police discovered the car and turned it over to the state 10 days after it had been stolen outside Bohin's grandmother's house in Taylorsville. Halloween candy wrappers scattered throughout the interior suggest the car was swiped by mischief-seeking teens.

"I'm sure the car was abused pretty bad. I don't know what other damages I'd have to pay for," she said.

Tax Commission officials acknowledge an injustice in the stolen vehicle recovery process but argue little can be done to eliminate storage and moving fees.

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"In our 1993 fiscal year, we impounded over 16,000 vehicles that had to be placed instate impound lots," said Dennis Ritz, deputy director of the state Division of Motor Vehicles. "A storage cost of $8 per day has been determined. . . . In addition, towing fees from private towing companies can range anywhere from $45-$80 an hour - depending upon the vehicle's location."

Car owners can claim a stolen vehicle with an expired registration by obtaining a temporary permit, Ritz added.

The ideal resolution to this vehicle recovery dilemma, said Sandy police Sgt. Michael Eldridge, "is to catch the guy who stole the car in the first place and make him or her pay restitution as part of a sentence. Unfortunately, the system victimizes the victims."

Arrests have not been made nor reparations paid for the theft of Stefani Bohin's car. For now, she has little choice but to put away a few dollars each payday toward a new car - and continue to depend on someone else to get her to work each day.

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