Some tow companies act more like the mafia than a legitimate business…
For five long months, a man in Grand Rapids, Michigan was missing his 1995 Chevy truck after it was stolen. Then, he received a phone call from police that his beloved truck had been found. However, the good news was cut short when the storage lot informed him his pickup had been sitting for four months, racking up almost $12,000 in storage fees.
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Considering this body style of Chevy pickups has been gaining in popularity among enthusiasts recently, we’re not surprised thieves were attracted to it. For the owner it’s his way of getting around and probably has plenty of sentimental value. If you own one of these, beware what you have is a rapidly appreciating asset others would love to separate from you.
Three weeks after the Silverado was stolen, it was towed from a trailer park where it sat. Had someone contacted the owner then, he would have gotten his Chevy back in short order. Instead, the man who struggled to get to physical therapy appointments after suffering an accident made do without his primary mode of transportation for months.
When the man tried to reason with the storage lot, he was told they would reduce the fee to $5,000. That was more than the guy could afford, and considering the fact nobody notified him earlier that his truck was there, that’s also insulting.
We’ve personally dealt with the storage lot shakedown scheme before where they try squeezing people for ridiculous sums of cash, threatening to take the vehicle if they don’t comply. Considering the industry is highly regulated by local governments, we have felt for a long time serious reform is necessary. These types of problems happen all over, not just in Michigan, and it’s time things change.
The owner of the truck got the cops and an attorney involved, plus he contacted a local news station. When the towing company let him look at the truck, the owner said he noticed some dents were fixed and the Chevy had been repainted. The tow company then said he could get the pickup back for $3,000 since they had spent $2,000 on unauthorized work.
When the local news station started pressuring the owner of the towing company, the response they got back was shocking. The tow company owner claimed he thought the truck had been abandoned and so was legally eligible to be auctioned off, then he realized someone mixed up the paperwork for another truck which was legally abandoned.
With the facts of what happened becoming a little clearer, this case quickly devolved into finger pointing. The tow company claims it faxed the truck’s information to the local police department as required by state law when they picked it up. The police department says it has no record of that fax and only learned the tow company had the truck when tow company employee asked for another copy of the abandoned vehicle report months later. That’s when police ran the registration number, getting a hit on a stolen vehicle report.
Ultimately, the owner of the Chevy got his truck back for about $1,600. The tow company put custom wheels on it, so they took those off and delivered the pickup without any wheels at all. The tow company claims they found the vehicle without wheels. However, the local news station spoke to people in the neighborhood where the truck was left and those residents claim the Chevy was parked with the wheels still attached. Now, the owner of the truck who’s strapped for cash has to save up to buy new wheels and tires.
We’re not huge on government regulation, but there are predatory tow companies out there pulling fast ones like this way too often. Trying to fight them is absolutely maddening since they play dirty and behave like the law doesn’t apply to them. Yes, there are tow companies that do everything above board and we applaud them, but cases like this really makes our blood boil.