Monday, December 27, 2010

Reason to ban certain tows

An article on, out of South Carolina, shows clearly why certain towing companies should be reined in. In Bluffton, S.C., a tow-truck operator shot and killed a man whose car the operator had booted and was intending to tow on Christmas Eve.

The owner of the car made a fatal mistake, which the police are still trying to sort out. He apparently displayed a gun carried in his belt. Carrying it concealed may have been legal; the article didn't mention whether the man had a permit. "Flashing" the gun was wrong. The tow truck operator reportedly got his own gun from his truck, and the car owner ended up dead. See more on

According to the Island Packet, the car was parked on the street. If it was a public roadway, why would a private tow company boot and plan to haul it away?

Locally, there are warning signs in shopping centers and private apartment complexes in Woodstock, warning drivers in no certain terms about towing. The signs, however, fail to inform drivers what they must do to avoid towing. At the west end of the Jewel-Osco parking lot (which is off Jewel property) the signs should be clear that parking is prohibited after a certain hour (10:00PM?), not just signs advising that cars will be towed.

You may remember the story of the woman who parked in the parking lot of a Crystal Lake flower business (after shopping in the flower business) just long enough to run into McDonald's to use a bathroom. Her car was gone when she came back about five minutes later.

And the story about the tractor-trailer unit that was towed from the parking lot next to Wisted's (not Wisted's lot) and held for a $5,-6,000 "ransom".

The City of Woodstock should prohibit towing from private property without a signed order by the manager or owner of the property in the specific instance. A tow truck operator should not be allowed to roam and then grab cars or trucks on his own, even with a contract between the manager/owner and the tow company.

If you find yourself in a predicament where your car is about to be towed by a private company, call the police immediately. If the cop tells you that it's a civil matter (towing off private property), protest that opinion and tell him that the tow truck driver is about to steal your car. Demand a report for the filing of felony theft charges against the tow truck driver.

That ought to at least get the tow stopped. Be sure to obtain a Report Number from the responding police officer at the time and ask his badge number, so that you (or your lawyer) can follow up with the P.D., if the cop allows your vehicle to be towed.

While the cop is there, remove everything of value from your car and ask for an inventory of anything left in it, such as the radio, GPS, spare tire, jack, operator's manual. Also, visually inspect your car and ask the officer to record any body or glass damage or to state in his report that the vehicle has no damage. If you give the key to the tow truck operator, give only the vehicle key(s), not your house keys.

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