SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - After a long and successful deployment, you finally make it back home to Hawaii. What would be better than a drive out to one of the many beautiful beaches or a trip into Honolulu or Waikiki'

You and your buddies dump your deployment bags in the barracks and hop in the car and ... dude, where is the car'

The parking space where you left it is empty. You automatically think it has been stolen, and someone else is now using it for a beach trip. Though this is a possibility, there is a more probable reason for the mysterious disappearance of your vehicle.

Chances are, a military police patrol on post considered your vehicle abandoned. Abandoned vehicles on military installations present security risks as well as environmental and safety concerns.

A vehicle may be considered abandoned when two of the following three have expired: the post decal sticker, the vehicle registration sticker on the license plate, or the state safety inspection sticker, which is usually located on the back bumper. If two of the three are expired, military police may place an abandoned vehicle notice on the vehicle and attempt to contact the registered owner.

If the owner has not remedied the situation, or could not be contacted by military police within 72 hours, the abandoned vehicle is subject to be towed to the installation impound lot or to the impound lot at Barber's Point - at owner's expense. The fee for towing and storage, up to 120 days, is $120. All abandoned vehicles are subject to be sold after 120 days in the impound lot.

Deploying Soldiers have the option of placing their vehicles in storage, at no cost, to prevent their vehicles from being towed and possibly sold. Storage of one privately owned vehicle (POV) at government expense may be authorized for Soldiers who meet one of the following requirements: a single Soldier deploying in support of OIF/OEF for 30 days or longer; a Soldier who is married to another service member when both are deployed; or a Soldier who is married to another service member who resides at a different permanent duty station.

Exercising this option not only negates the risk of theft and vandalism that might occur in an on-post parking lot, it guarantees a vehicle will be right where it was parked when a Soldier returns from deployment. Interested Soldiers should inquire through their chain of command about this option.

For Soldiers who do not meet one of the above requirements, unit commanders may opt to provide secure POV storage in unit motor pools that are maintained by rear detachments.

Whichever option, Soldiers should ensure they have a vehicle care plan as they prepare to deploy, because if they plan to leave their car on-post and it's not being taken care of, chances are it will be gone when they get back.

Soldiers should contact their chain of command for more information.