SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A towing contract approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday reduces towing fees across the board and drops them altogether for victims of vehicle theft, officials said Wednesday.

The five-year, $65.4 million contract with AutoReturn, the same company that currently provides towing services for the city, reduces fees by 5 percent, or $22.25, from their current level of $491.25, according to the SFMTA. Additional fees incurred for those who fail to retrieve their vehicles within four hours will remain the same.

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In addition, the contract expands a fee waiver first approved in December last year for San Francisco residents retrieving a stolen vehicle.

All vehicle theft victims are now eligible for a fee waiver, even if they don’t live in San Francisco, and have a 48-hour grace period before they start incurring fees for failing to retrieve their vehicles.

The change, initially called for in a resolution last year by the Board of Supervisors, will reduce revenues from the towing program by around $1.2 million, according to an SFMTA staff report.

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Supervisor Scott Wiener, who authored the resolution, praised the change.

“Victims of auto theft shouldn’t be victimized again by having to pay towing fees,” Wiener said.

The number of vehicles towed decreased during the current five year contract with AutoReturn from 71,000 in 2005 to 42,000 in 2015. SFMTA officials said this was due to factors including increased compliance from drivers, reduced vehicle ownership and better signage and online sharing of information regarding towing zones and laws.

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