Cost of crime: Who's looking out for victims? - KCTV5

Cost of crime: Who's looking out for victims?

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Often those taken advantage of are left footing the bill. Some legal experts and law enforcement officials said it simply isn’t fair. (KCTV5) Often those taken advantage of are left footing the bill. Some legal experts and law enforcement officials said it simply isn’t fair. (KCTV5)
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -

KCTV5 News is digging deeper into the cost of crime for victims.

Often those taken advantage of are left footing the bill. Some legal experts and law enforcement officials said it simply isn’t fair.

Did you know if your car is shot at, broken into or damaged and needs to be towed or impounded, you have to pay the bill. For those without insurance, or high deductibles, it sometimes leaves them in a tough spot.

A drive-by shooting near 55th Street and Park Avenue is just one example of that. A man was driving down the road in September when he was shot at. He had to pay the bill to have it towed, despite having nothing to do with the crime. If he’s looking for restitution from the suspect, chances are slim.

“What I always tell victims of crimes, is if you get any money, consider it like a Christmas present, don’t count on it,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said.

Howe explained property crimes often leave the victim paying nine times out of 10.

Burglaries, vehicle break-ins, theft, arson, embezzlement and shoplifting are all crimes that will leave the victim out of luck if the suspect can’t pay up.

“The bottom line is I don’t think we do enough to support these victims,” Howe said.

He’s taken the issue to the Kansas Legislature, but most suspects don’t have the funds, and neither does the state. He said it’s frustrating not just to the victim, but to his prosecutors.

“Criminal defendants show up with the brand-new iPhone. I’ve seen women come in with styled nails and Gucci purses, and my who thought is, if you can afford those things why aren’t you paying restitution?” he explained.

“I tell people this is the criminal justice system, not the victim justice system,” Jennifer Miller said.

Miller is a victims’ advocate for the Kansas City Police Department's homicide unite. Unlike property crimes, violent crime victims do have the opportunity to be reimbursed up to $25,000.

“Most families don’t know it exists,” she said.

And for that reason, Sgt. Derrell Rocker leads the community support unit to get the word out.

“We do actually help them recover some of the loss in their property. We have great partners," Rocker said.

Just last year, Rocker helped a woman fix her car for free. She needed it to get to school, but it was damaged in a violent carjacking near 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue.

Rocker found an auto body shop to help get her back on the road. Without this program, the cost would have fallen on her. 

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