|(a) Other agencies' involvement. (1) The department will encourage other police agencies to establish a procedure to handle and make final disposition of all abandoned motor vehicles found or reported within the geographic areas for which they have a responsibility. By mutual agreement other police agencies will process any abandoned motor vehicle found or reported within their jurisdiction which may be handled under the provisions of the Texas Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act. In areas within which another agency will provide this service, the department will refer all abandoned motor vehicles to that agency. (2) The department will process those abandoned motor vehicles which come to our attention if no other police agency having jurisdiction over the place where the vehicle is found will accept this responsibility. (3) Officers will attempt to notify the owner and lien holder of abandoned motor vehicles through presently prescribed procedures in the event circumstances seem to warrant such actions. (4) No vehicle will be considered to be an abandoned motor vehicle until the time requirements have definitely been met. This does not prohibit the normal processing of vehicles which appear to have been stolen, left temporarily on the right-of-way for the owner's convenience, or involved in an accident; nor does it prohibit the removal of vehicles from the highways for any lawful reason prior to the time limitations contained in the Act. (b) Preparatory procedures. Sheriffs and local police departments will be encouraged to process the abandoned motor vehicles found within their jurisdictions. Department personnel will refer all abandoned motor vehicles to the appropriate local agency, when feasible. (c) Operational procedure. (1) This section is not intended to apply to vehicles which are left temporarily upon the highway. (2) This section applies when vehicle in question is believed to be an abandoned motor vehicle under the Act and the decision is made that it will be handled as such. (d) Abandoned motor vehicle coordinators. Regional commanders will appoint as many persons within the region as deemed necessary to serve as abandoned motor vehicle coordinators, hereinafter referred to as the coordinator. (e) Responsibility for originating forms and completing sale. Unless otherwise directed by the regional commander, the officer who first acts to have an abandoned motor vehicle taken into custody will be responsible for completing the prescribed forms and for the conduct of any subsequent sale. In the event the services of an auctioneer are employed, a department member will complete and sign prescribed forms. (f) Placarding of vehicles believed to have been abandoned. Department officers who observe a vehicle under circumstances suggesting that it may become an abandoned motor vehicle as defined in the Act will complete the notification to owner form advising him that the vehicle may come under the provisions of the Act. This form, when completed, will be attached to the vehicle in a conspicuous location. The vehicle will not be considered to be an abandoned vehicle until after the time and date specified on the form. (g) Removal of abandoned vehicles. (1) A department officer who has knowledge of an abandoned motor vehicle in his assigned area, after having determined that the vehicle has not been listed as stolen, will report the matter to the local police agency within the county that processes such abandoned motor vehicles. (2) When there is no agency in the county that processes abandoned motor vehicles, the officer will: (A) have the vehicle removed to a place of storage, following the normal procedure used for removal of vehicles from the highways, or as directed by the regional commander; (B) report the removal and storage of the vehicle to the department radio station he normally contacts, and advise the station that the vehicle is being handled under the Texas Abandoned Motor Vehicle Act; and (C) complete Notice of Impoundment form in triplicate and send one copy to the Chief of Finance of this department and one copy to the coordinator as soon as practicable. The coordinator's copy must be accompanied with Abandoned Motor Vehicle master form which will have as much relevant information entered thereon as is available at the time. (h) Notification by mail. The officer having the vehicle stored will determine, if possible, the name and address of the last known registered owner and all known lien holders of record. If mailing addresses can be obtained, the officer will notify the owner and lien holders by completing the notice of abandoned motor vehicle taken into custody form and mailing by certified mail, return receipt requested. The officer will furnish a copy of each form so mailed to the coordinator for the area in which the vehicle was found. The regional commander may direct the coordinator for the area in which the vehicle was found to be responsible for identifying and notifying by mail the owners and lien holders, if any. In this event, the coordinator will follow the procedure prescribed above immediately upon receipt of a completed notice of abandoned motor vehicle taken into custody. (i) Notification by publication. Where no mailing address of owners or lien holders can be found, or the certified letter is returned unclaimed, the person responsible for the effort to notify by mail will make the required notification by one publication in one newspaper of general circulation in the area where the vehicle was abandoned. (j) Vehicles reported as abandoned by garagekeepers. Vehicles reported to the members of the department by garagekeepers as abandoned motor vehicles will be processed in the same manner as described above, with exceptions and additions as noted hereafter. (1) The garagekeeper will be encouraged to make the report to another agency. The statute makes it mandatory that the department accept the report and process the vehicle if this is the desire of the reporting garagekeeper. (2) The garagekeeper must tender a certified check, cashier's check, or a U.S. postal money order in the amount of $5.00, made payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety before the department will take any action on his report. The officer will give a receipt to the reporting garagekeeper for the $5.00 fee to establish the fact that the garagekeeper reported the abandoned motor vehicle within the allotted time. (3) Notification of last known registered owners and lien holders of record must be completed by department personnel as previously prescribed even though the reporting garagekeeper has already done this. (4) The garagekeeper will notify the department employee to whom the abandoned motor vehicle was reported or someone acting in the officer's behalf in the event the vehicle is reclaimed. (k) Sale of vehicles. (1) As soon as practical after the expiration of 20 days from the date of mailing notices to owners and lien holders or publication of the prescribed notice, vehicles not reclaimed will be sold at public auction. A notice announcing each sale will be posted not less than five days prior to the sale in the courthouse in the county where the sale will take place. Such notice will describe each vehicle to be sold and specify the date, time, and place of the sale. If the vehicle was reported by a garagekeeper, he will be notified of the time and place of the sale. (2) Several vehicles may be sold at the same time, but each vehicle must be bid on separately. Each public auction will be conducted in such a manner that each bidder will submit an oral bid and will have an opportunity to raise his bid as often as he desires until no further bids are forthcoming. (3) The department will insure, as far as practical, that notice of a pending sale is given to all prospective bidders. The department may employ an auctioneer who will be paid out of the proceeds of sales. (4) All vehicles sold at public auction must be paid for by certified check, cashier's check, or U.S. postal money order, made payable to the Texas Department of Public Safety. (5) The department employee responsible for the sale will, after receiving payment, execute the auction sales receipt form and deliver it to the purchaser. (l) Final reporting on vehicles sold. (1) The coordinator will be responsible for maintaining in the field a file pertaining to each abandoned motor vehicle reported to him. (2) Owners or lien holders who identify themselves as having an equity in a vehicle which has already been sold will be given the available facts concerning the impoundment and sale of the vehicle as well as the expenses incurred in disposing of the vehicle. Owners or lien holders will be advised to contact the Chief of Finance, Accounting and Budget Control, Texas Department of Public Safety at Austin if they wish to submit a claim for any balance remaining from the proceeds of the sale of the vehicle after deduction of expenses or other charges. (m) Records and fiscal control. The department is required to keep records and exercise fiscal control on any transaction involving expenditure of department funds or receipt of funds by the department. Indebtedness incurred by the department in the administration of this Act will be paid by a warrant based on a voucher submitted by the person providing the service through the coordinator to the Chief of Finance.