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Cars seized from motorists are being used as the personal rides of police officers and their relatives in St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigative reporters uncovered the scandal while tracking down how Aimie Mokwa, 33, daughter of Police Chief Joe Mokwa, ended up driving vehicles registered to St. Louis Metropolitan Towing and its subsidiaries.
Like many cities across the nation, St. Louis has adopted an ordinance giving police officers the ability to grab automobiles from people suspected, not necessarily convicted, of certain crimes. Cars not recovered within thirty days are declared the property of St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, which splits profit from towing fees with the city. Such arrangements can generate millions in revenue for municipalities.
The St. Louis program had an additional benefit. The tow yard became a virtual rental car agency for local police officers who would take out "abandoned" cars for their own free, personal use for months at a time. The "test drive" privilege extended also to Aimie Mokwa.
If the officers and their relatives enjoyed the vehicles, they were offered the opportunity to purchase them at discounts of up to 75 percent. For example, Aimie Mokwa "rented" a one-year-old Dodge Neon that had been impounded in May 2001. In September 2002 she flipped the Neon after crashing into two parked cars on perfectly dry pavement.