Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fort Worth Police Nab Abandoned Vehicle Enforcement Committing Felony Offense

The Fort Worth Police Department caught Abandoned Vehicle Enforcement "stashing" private property impounds, instead of towing the vehicles directly to the storage facility. This towing company based in Fort Worth, Texas has a history of providing financial benefits to parking facilities and hiring Registered Sex Offenders as wrecker drivers.

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For a complete summary of the offense report regarding this criminal illegal act by Abandoned Vehicle Enforcement, read the above Fort Worth Police Report summaries.

Once again, a member of the Southwest Tow Operators has burned the citizens and tourists of Texas. We can only hope that our State regulatory agencies will take the necessary actions to prevent this type of felony criminal conduct from happening again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Towing & Vehicle Storage Industry Rob Texas of Sales Tax Money

Year after year, towing companies and vehicle storage facilities pocket for personal use or fail to collect, sales tax money that educates on public school children, not to mention, rebated back to local governments.

It's bad enough when a delinquent taxpayer goes a year without making any payment to the State Comptroller, when audited to determine how much is owed, taxpayer is given a 'break", by paying less than the original tax lien.

Example, Sales Tax Lien $65,000, after repeated appeals, payment plan of a $1000 a month for 12 months

I don't know about how people think, but utilizing State manpower hours to reach the conclusion that a taxpayer owes the State of Texas $65,000, then settles for under $15,000 is not amusing one bit.

I am firm believer that a business is responsible for charging, collecting and paying sales tax when warranted, but to do otherwise is unacceptable and not being forced to obey the tax laws is not sending good message.

I know for a fact, based on receipts provided to me by consumers, that vehicle storage facilities are not collecting the sales tax on the "Impound Fee", but are still required to pay it. Then vehicle storage facilities fail to pay the sales tax on vehicles sold at public auction to salvage yards.

Towing companies statewide that perform private property towing, are either selling or leasing the red and white towing signs, which are taxable, that are not being remitted back to the state.

A vehicle storage facility or towing company should not be allowed to renew their State licenses unless they provide a Comptroller Tax Clearance Letter. To allow these businesses or any business, to collect and not remit to the State, sales tax money, is just plain wrong.

Our state government has to step up to the plate to recover all the sales tax that has been pocketed by one of the most corrupt industries.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Texas AG Finally Decides to Investigate Towing Companies

It's long overdue that the Texas Attorney General is going to investigate what we have known for the past 15 years, corruption within the towing industry, taking advantage of consumers.

AG Abbott, states: "We're going to undertake an exhaustive investigation"

Any type of investigation into the towing companies involved in private property non consensual towing will take a good year to conduct an investigation, considering how widespread the problem is.

I would recommend that the AG include the State Comptroller in this investigation to recover all the sales tax the towing companies and vehicle storage facilities, that are connected to these towing companies, have stolen from the state. (parking lot signage is taxable)

The issue of legality in the towing and storing a vehicle without probable cause from private property has many facets, such as who installed the red and white towing signs, who paid for the red and white towing signs, we know for a fact, that towing companies have their red and white towing signs made and provide them for free, a criminal violation of State Law.

If the AG is going to get to the bottom of every towing company that has abused our citizens, it's going to take sworn testimony from parking facility owners/managers regarding the bribes they took from the towing company to garner a towing contract in the first place. From my experience of dealing with an apartment complex manager, they will deny they accepted any financial benefit from a towing company, but cannot produce a canceled check where they purchased the red and white towing signs, parking permits or parking lot striping. What more, is some towing companies, just as corrupt as J&J Towing will advertise in Apartment Association Magazines they "will" represent the property manager" for free, a direct violation of State Law.

So, I think this undertaking of the Attorney General is going to become larger than his online child predators initiative, which the public will benefit from, but, we can't expect result any sooner than a year, because of the shear number of towing companies, wrecker drivers, vehicle storage facilities and parking facilities involved in this corruption, that has been allowed to grow, just like cancer.

The public has a right to know why the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is issuing a Occupation Wrecker Operator Licensee to Registered Sex Offenders. Would you want your daughter or wife to be picked up by a Registered Sex Offender when calling to have your vehicle towed late at night after becoming disabled?

I just hope that AG Abbott will do right by the Texas Towing Law, like other AGs in past and uphold the integrity of towing statute, that was writtin to protect the consumers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

South Texas Under Attack by Criminal Illegal Towing Tactics

It makes no difference what part of Texas your in, your chances of becoming victimized due to criminal illegal towing are quite high.

In Mcallen, Texas, a towing company owner, Robert Mora was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer and interfering with police business, after attempting to runover a McAllen PD Sgt. This same Mora subject is related to the owner of Alberts and Pronto Wrecker Services of Austin, who incidentally, have been kicked off the Police Rotation List after continued criminal offenses.

It's going take the Texas Legislature to strengthen the existing Towing Law to create a deterrent, because as of now, neither the towing company or parking facility have anything to lose.

The only way to put an end to the repeated illegal towing practices, is to put people in Jail.

Refunds Offered by Towing Company After APD Wrecker Enforcement Investigation

Well, the victims of towing scam in Austin, Texas on Thanksgiving Day by J&J Towing are being offered a refund by the towing company, only after the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit detective completed his investigation.

Sad thing about whole ordeal was that of all the victims towed from 2906 Medical Arts except one were from out of town.

The continued publicity in the media and local blogs about illegal towing practices in Austin and the City Ordinance that prohibits a lot of the criminal conduct, has educated Austinites.

The bottomline here is that everyone, regardless of the stated reason towed, if towed without your permission, anywhere in the State of Texas should file a complaint with TDLR.

State Agency Seeks Out Towing Victims

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the state agency, that regulates towing companies, vehicle storage facilities and employees of both, encourage anyone who has been towed from private property without their permission, to file a complaint with their agency.

Illegal towing is happening all across the state of Texas, by unlicensed wrecker drivers, with unlicensed vehicle storage facility employees collecting money from victims to pay the ransom to retrieve their vehicle.

This state agency "will" investigate every complaint filed with them!

You can also call them toll free at 800-803-9202.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plano Police Department Turns Blind Eye to Criminal Conduct of Wrecker Drivers

Once again, another Texas law enforcement agency is failing to own up to it's responsibility to allow it's citizens to file an offense report for an illegal tow and turn potential victims away with the common invalid excuse, "it's a civil matter because it happened on private property".

Geez, banks are on private property that the Police respond to when robbed, what difference could it be, that when a wrecker driver steals a vehicle from private property, both criminal offenses, that the Plano Police Department decided to ignore one and not the other.

This latest incident involved at least 4 victims I am aware of, all of them after reading my website, calling Plano Police Department, to report the illegal towing, only to be told by a police officer who doesn't have a clue about the Texas Towing Law, based her comment to one of the victims.

The main issue in this Plano incident is that the towing company, Fredacom Enterprises, LLC dba Choice Towing, committed a felony offense, by tampering with a governmental record (towing and vehicle storage receipt) by knowingly providing false information, regarding who authorized the tows from a vacant parking lot across the street from Fry's Electronics.

What is happening, is these criminals are using the address of Fry's Electronics on the towing receipt, when actually, the vehicles were being towed from another address.

I would like know what valid excuse the Plano Police Department has for not arresting wrecker drivers committing a known felony, as in this incident.

It's one thing for a police department protect the public, but protecting this type of felony criminal conduct by towing companies operating in their city limits, is just ridiculous!

I highly suggest that the Plano Police Department contact TDLR or the Austin Police Department to educate themselves on the criminal enforcement of the Texas Towing Law.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Property Managers Often Accept Kickbacks From Towing Companies Because of Greed

Would you want to live in an apartment complex if you knew the property manager was getting a kickback in the form of cash, gift cards, gambling trips to Las Vegas or parking lot striping, from the towing company, that towed your or your visitor's vehicle during the middle of the night and forced to pay $200+ to get it released from the storage lot?

Property Management Companies, who are members of the Austin and Texas Apartment Associations expect residents in their complexes to obey their rules, but, they turn around and accept bribes from towing companies daily which is a criminal offense.

Property managers can't say they don't know they couldn't accept kickbacks, because every office at an apartment complex keeps an updated version of the TAA Redbook, that explains the State Law regulations regarding the towing of vehicles.

One of the problems with property managers, are they are weak when it comes to turning away a towing company salesman offering their services, signs, including striping, parking permits and letters to be given to their residents, all at a price they could not get from anyone else, or just free.

It never passes through a property manager or supervisor's mind that they chance going to jail if they sign a contract with a towing company, that includes all the above mentioned perks.

Towing company salesmen or account managers are taught to make the property manager feel they will not be responsible for any vehicle that gets towed and they will be held harmless, another bald face lie. But, we see many property managers belly up and accept bribes daily from towing companies.

Poor residents that are struggling financially to make ends meet, while their property manager is collected not only a paycheck, but kickbacks from the towing company for each vehicle towed.

Me, personally, I think any property manager, who authorize a towing company to patrol their parking lot and allow the drivers to use their discretion om which vehicle to impound. Some instances, a vehicle will be impounded for barely touching the white/yellow parking stripe. On another instance, a wrecker driver will find a vehicle with the windows rolled down and remove the parking permit, them impound the vehicle. Still shocking illegal activity, is the wrecker driver taking a vehicle that perfecting park and park the vehicle in the fire lane, over the parking stripe, photograph it, them impound the vehicle, all because the property manager gave authorization.
This type of criminal conduct must be reported, investigated and prosecuted by law enforcement.

We can't the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations to do thing that need to be, since they are issuing Wrecker Occupation Employee Licenses to Registered Sex Offenders, Murderers, Serial Rapists, Auto Thieves, Burglars and Drug Dealers. The very state agency that was supposed to keep Texas safe is sending wrong message to the public regarding their safety should they have to call a wrecker service to come pick them up on a dark highway.

Motorists Burned Daily by Wrecker Drivers in Austin, Texas

It's shame that wrecker drivers are taking advantage of motorist daily in the Austin area by charging fees they are not allowed, just because a motorist is unaware of a local city ordinance. Time and time again and it makes no difference what race or language you speak, a dishonest wrecker driver, will demand payment while hooked up to a vehicle in a private parking lot.

Some local towing companies boast on their website how honest hardworking they are in reality, they nothing more than petty criminals preying on the public.

It's always cash only with some wrecker drivers telling motorist they will give them a ride to the nearest ATM, to steal your money or they will impound your vehicle.

The recent towing scam during the Texas - Texas A&M game in Austin involving Franklin Service Station Inc dba J&J Towing is just one example of many, that a member company of Austin Towing Association, knowingly towed without authorization as many as 20 vehicles from a parking lot near the stadium. This incident should be more than enough for the City of Austin to require a city contractor to disallow J&J Towing to tow anymore vehicles from city managed property!

This repeated dishonesty among towing companies in Austin is having a negative impact on the public and tourism.

The Legislature needs to step up to plate and pass legislation that increases the penalty for illegal towing, as there is no deterrent now to keep the towing industry honest. A towing company could, and has many times, impound 200 vehicles, all but 3 may complain to law enforcement or take the time the contest the legality.

Greed drives dishonesty and those individuals, rather it be the wrecker driver, vehicle storage facility employees or property manager, who commits fraud, should be jailed, bottom line!

Avoid being overcharged in a parking lot in Austin, call 911 and have a police officer come settle the issue.

Georgetown Police Department Blalant Disregard of Texas Towing Law Stuns Victim

Warning to the public, if your vehicle is towed from private property in Georgetown, Texas, don't expect the Georgetown Police Department to allow you to file criminal charges against the wrecker driver nor the parking facility owner/agent, even when a clear statutory violation has occurred.

It is clearly evident that this Police Department needs additional training in regards to nonconsent towing laws, which any violation of the Texas Towing Law is a criminal offense.

A recent victim of blatant illegal towing was stunned when the police officer told him that the property manager could have his vehicle towed at their discretion, even though the vehicle had current tags and was parked in a parking space without being given any notice.

Once again, a law enforcement agency, has failed to uphold the integrity of the Texas Towing Law which has been in effect since 1993.

What is even more stunning, is this town is located in Williamson County, a county with a reputation of tough on crime!

Protecting their buddies in the local towing companies by not enforcing the law is the wrong message to send!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Football Game Towing Scam in Austin, Texas Turns Criminal

Lord behold, the same exact parking/towing scam that happened at Texas/OU game happened again during the Texas/Texas A&M game Thanksgiving Day, here in Austin, Texas.

I have been told by one of the many victims of incident that happened in Austin from the address of 2906 Medical Arts Parkway, that the property owner of parking lot "DID NOT" give J&J Towing authorization to tow any vehicles from his property.

The property owner watched the news broadcast on KVUE regarding the incident and I was quite shocked that an towing company, being a member of the Austin Towing Association, would stoop so low, to commit fraud on his property for financial gain.

Everybody that has been towed from the parking lot of 2906 Medical Arts Parkway is a crime victim and should contact the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit at 512-974-8645 or 512-974-8122.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vehicle Door Locks Not Working?

It is not uncommon for a wrecker driver to damage the door locks of a vehicle he/she is going to tow without the vehicle owner's permission. When retrieving your vehicle from the storage facility, you always want to check every door that has key locks, to see rather or not they still lock or unlock the vehicle.

Another way to tell if your vehicle has been unlocked, is the weatherstripping at the bottom of the glass is torn, bent or detached from the door shell.

There is really no valid reason for a wrecker driver to unlocked a locked vehicle, considering the towing industry provides all the necessary equipment to tow a vehicle. In most cases, a wrecker driver, when peering into the vehicle, will list items seen on the vehicle inventory sheet, while others will just steal what they want and write on the vehicle inventory form that the doors were unlocked.

In any event you find that your vehicle has been opened, while at the storage facility, you most definitely want to call 911 and file a report for burglary of your vehicle. If you find that your door locks don't work, you most definitely want to call the Police to make a damage report and be sure to get the offense number, so when you file a complaint against the towing company and vehicle storage facility, for damage or personal effects stolen from your vehicle, you can include this offense report number in the explanation of your complaint.

In every insurance claim filed against a towing company and vehicle storage facility, having a Police offense report number validates your claim, as without it, it's your word against the towing company, and they are known to be pathological liars.

Never, should you ever leave the Vehicle Storage Facility property if you discover damage to your vehicle without having law enforcement come and take a report. Once you leave the storage lot and notice items missing, your chance of any recovery is slim to none.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tampering With Governmental Records

How many times have you called a wrecker service to come tow your disabled vehicle to the shop for repair? It's not uncommon to have to call a tow truck and it's not uncommon for repair shop to "pad" the towing receipt to benefit his business. Nothing surprises me anymore when I get calls from consumers regarding their experience with a wrecker service.

It is best, if you can afford it, to pay the wrecker service, to tow your vehicle to the shop, to avoid an added expense when paying your repair bill.

When it comes to nonconsent towing, such as "taking" your vehicle without your permission, those towing fees cannot be any higher than what a wrecker service has submitted to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.

What I do know happens for a fact, is that a wrecker service that does not have a tow truck large enough to tow a vehicle, will use another wrecker service, but write in a higher fee, so the consumer will pay more than what the first wrecker service paid to have the vehicle towed the vehicle storage facility. Take for instance, Rick Wrecker Service will charge Kay Towing Service $250 to tow the vehicle and Kay Towing Service will turnaround and charge Consumer $1000. Of course the receipt that the wrecker driver for Rick Wrecker Service will paid from will indicate the correct amount of $250.

This is very common in the towing of large vehicles such as tractor trailers and large trucks over 26,000 GVW. In several towns across Texas, wrecker services without heavy duty wreckers, are breaking into large vehicles, hot wiring the ignition, then driving the trucks to the storage facility, then producing a fraudulent wrecker receipt for towing, when the vehicle was driven.

Of course, a lot of wrecker drivers would never do illegal things like this, but there are large number that wouldn't think twice about tampering with a governmental record, a 2nd degree felony, to increase their income.

The public must realize, that you never want to allow a wrecker driver to tow your vehicle, regardless of the reason if he/she does not show you the state issued wrecker operator license, as shown below:It would also be at your best interest, to require that a wrecker driver show you there picture drivers license to verify the name on the above license is actually the same the person. These licenses are already showing up in flea markets.

Between wrecker service owners giving kickbacks for business to shops and parking facilities, to failing to withhold federal income taxes from "employees", to wrecker drivers stealing personal effects of vehicles they tow, you just have to wonder how many people in the towing industry actually sit on the front of church on Sunday mornings.

But, there are a few wrecker services that are honest, hardworking people, who make difference in people's lives.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Criminals Target Holiday Shoppers in Parking Lots

With people heading to the malls and stores for Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers should remember the following to stay safe:

Dress in comfortable clothing with a number of pockets. Avoid flashy jewelry whether it is real or costume. Wear comfortable shoes in case you have to run from an assailant.

Avoid purses and wallets. Instead carry a fanny pack to leave your hands free to deal with children and packages. Carry only the essentials. For men, instead of a wallet, carry a money clip in your front pocket.

Carry cash in denominations no larger than a $20. Carry your cash in various locations on your body, such as pockets, socks and bras. If you carry a checkbook, keep up with the check numbers and the recipients in order to be able to easily cancel checks if necessary. Carry only the credit cards you need while shopping. Always log your credit card numbers and the 800 numbers and keep them in a safe place in case you have to cancel them.

Drive with your car doors locked.

Drive around a parking lot to make sure there are no suspicious people lurking about. Park in a well-lit area and landmark yourself so you can find your car easily. Exit quickly, lock your doors and walk quickly to your destination. Keep your keys in your hand in case you have to use them as a defensive weapon. Walk well away from the parked cars because someone could be hiding between them. Move to the driver's side of a car if one approaches. Make both visual and verbal contact with people. This lets a potential attacker know you have seen them and may recognize them again.

When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, quickly enter your car and leave. Do not sit and arrange packages, make phone calls or put on make-up.

Do not activate a remote keyless entry until you are even with the back of your vehicle.

If you are attacked, do not resist. If you are forced into a physical confrontation to protect yourself or others, scream to call attention to yourself. Use keys or thumbs to gouge the attacker's eyes, use the heel of your hand to jam the attacker's nose or Adams apple, knee the groin area or stomp down on top of the attacker's foot. Then, run quickly to escape.

If you are attacked, try to be able to describe your attacker by race, sex, height, weight, identifying features such as scars or tattoos. Note glasses and clothing, vehicle descriptions and the direction of travel.

Shop with others, and if you are by yourself and worried about going into the parking lot, ask for an escort from security or the store manager.

Do not leave valuables in your vehicles. Cash, purses, coins, jewelry, cell phones, radar detectors, cameras, GPS systems and laptop computers are very popular items to steal.

Make sure you are not followed. If you think you are being followed, drive until you see a police officer or go through a fast food drive window and ask the clerk to get a description of the vehicle if they can and call the police for you. Do not go home.

Always check that no one enters your garage as the door closes behind you. Exit your vehicle only after you know that everything is secure.

911 is a free call on your cell phone. Know your locations so you can give it to the police dispatcher.

These are just some of the important factors "all" shoppers should consider to protect yourself in the mall parking lots. Criminals are hungry and they will strike when they believe your guard is down.

Monday, November 24, 2008

State Agency Issuing Occupation Licenses to Convicted Sex Offenders

When I first heard about this, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, issuing an Occupations License to Registered Sex Offenders, I will have to admit that I was shocked. What more could possibility happen to Texans and tourists, when having to call a wrecker to have their vehicle towed and end up in the cab of a tow truck with a Convicted Rapist?

A couple of weeks ago, the media reported that State Senator John Whitmire was receiving threatening phone calls from death row inmates by way of smuggled cellphone. At least the Senator knew the inmate calling was locked up and posed no immediate threat. But, what would the Senator say about if one his daughters were raped by a wrecker driver that arrived to tow their vehicle to the shop?

Same scenario, the exact same type of criminals we do not want to give access to our citizens are now being licensed by a state agency to come as close as your front door or give you a pedicure.

It was recalled before TDLR was given the towing and vehicle storage licensing and enforcement role, that TxDOT had for 20 years, from the Legislature, was this move going to cleanup this industry that still has a bad reputation of screwing the consumer and insurance companies. As it appears, with TDLR issuing Occupations Licenses to Convicted Auto Thieves, Baby and Child Molesters, Murderers, Serial Rapists and Burglars, the citizens of Texas and our tourists, should carry a weapon to protect yourselves.

I am just ashamed that William H. Kuntz, Jr., Executive Director,
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, would allow his agency to give a license these types of convicts.

This issue needs to be addressed and stop issuing licenses to Registered Sex Offenders. To date, 28 Registered Sex Offenders have been identified as being issued a TDLR Occupations Employee License.

You can verify whether or not a person is issued an Occupations License here, and here for Sex Offender Registry.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Georgetown Apartment Complex & Towing Company Violating Towing Law

Of all towns to engage in organized criminal activity, either these people, think they are above the law, or just plain stupid.

On Thursday, I received a call from a Georgetown, Texas resident that his vehicle had been towed for being inoperable, but that could not be, he was driving the vehicle backinforth to work, even drove the vehicle from the storage lot after being forced to pay $193.30.

I asked Mr, Whitfield (victim) several questions about the parking lot and just couldn't believe there were no towing signs posted, especially, in Williamson County. So, I decided to drive up to this apartment complex can check it out myself, and sure enough, there were no towing signs posted at either of the curbcuts to enter the parking facility.

I was not surprised to hear that the towing company, CEN TEX, brought, not once, but twice the towing signs, for "free", a major mistake, since the towing company cannot have a financial interest in the parking facility.

I couldn't help myself but go into the complex office to ask whether they knew they could not being towing vehicles with no towing signs posted, only to be told, their residents were told when moving in the policy on towing. I was like, whatever, then asked for a business card, after providing mine and left.

According to Mr, Whitfield, several vehicles have been towed from this apartment complex parking lot with no signs posted as required by Occupations Code

Come Monday, I will be calling the Georgetown Police Department to determine whether or not their agency is aware this organized criminal activity is occurring in their city and what they plan to do about it, since, Mr. Whitfield has assured me he will file criminal charges against all those involved.

Just as sure as day and night, any vehicle towed from this apartment complex's covered parking spaces for being parked in as assigned space, is illegally towed!

The real culprit in illegal towing is the wrecker driver, who actually commits the criminal offense when he/she tows a vehicle, from a noncomplying parking facility.

I'm sorry, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse when, a victim is forced to pay a ransom, to retrieve their vehicle, because the wrecker driver was not trained in the Towing Law.

I would not recommend this apartment complex nor the towing company to anyone, since both pride themselves in committing criminal offenses!

Tow Trucks - Dangerous Driving Can Kill

Last night in Austin, local police officers were chasing reckless driving and speeding tow trucks towing vehicles at extremely high speeds down Interstate 35. One specific company, Assured Towing, had a wrecker driver stopped after being clocked at 81 in 60 mph speed zone. I even spotted this idiot and several others while out for my Saturday night cruise along our roadways looking for drunk drivers, stalled vehicles, stranded motorist, debris in the roadway etc. I must give credit to the 911 call takers I spoke with last night, as for their calmness, in our conversations, two suspects were apprehended for fleeing the scene of an accident, 3 tow trucks were stopped for moving violations (high dollar tickets) and 2 drunk drivers were stopped, arrested, then transported to Jail.

The importance of citizens reporting suspicious activity, working with the law enforcement, can go along way in making our communities a safer place to live.

With Interstate 35 being a major shipping route for the drug cartels, there is no telling who is sitting in a vehicle parked along the freeway. Good Samaritans get killed everyday just offering help to people, as I am not going to be next Good Samaritan killed, as told by local police, "Call it in".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Severe Illegal Towing Problems in Greater Fort Worth Dallas region

The hardworking citizens and many visitors to the Greater Fort Worth Dallas region are daily victimized at the hand of certain towing companies, vehicle storage facility and parking facilities without little or no resistance from law enforcement.

Criminal illegal towing of vehicles, from mopeds to tractor trailers is so rampant, the public is being burned financially with little or no hope of recovering their financial losses, while many law enforcement agencies, turn away potential crime victims with the lame excuse, “it’s a civil matter”, when in reality, if they conducted a criminal investigation, criminal charges could be filed.

Several towing companies in the North Texas area are offering financial incentives free to parking facility owners and managers, just for the authorization to roam their parking lots towing vehicles for whatever reason the wrecker drivers deem, which is highly illegal and criminal. In a recent incident, local towing company Cencir, cut the locks off the door of several tractor trailers (18 wheelers), hot wired the ignition, then drive the trucks to their storage facility. Unfortunately, it’s the same issue as the Home Depot parking lot, where the towing company installed the signs, forged a written contract and forced six owner operator over the road drivers to pay a huge ransom to get their trucks released. This without a doubt is auto theft, but, getting Grand Prairie Police to file criminal charges is a different matter, even though, they took an oath to wear the badge to uphold the criminal laws of Texas. If law enforcement would just investigate the written documentation of the advertising by these rogue towing companies, it's a clear cut violation, for a towing company to have a financial interest in the parking facility if vehicles are be towed from them.

Earlier this week, I was a guest speaker at the Apartment Association of Tarrant County 2008 Trade Show, in an effort to educate residential multi-family property management personnel, about the importance to complying with the Texas Towing Act. As I said again and again to over 250 property managers, “I seriously doubt your towing company is going to send you money for your commissary account while locked up in Jail for violating the Towing Act”. Most were utterly caught by surprise, to be told they could be arrested because their parking lots were NOT in compliance prior to vehicles being towed.

The public is being burned daily throughout the state, but even more so in the North Texas area. Local news media frequently runs news stories about towing issues, but, very seldom, is any action taking by law enforcement, to stop this continuing criminal activity, there is no valid reason, for any law enforcement agency to ignore the fact that certain towing companies and parking facility owners are engaging in organized criminal activity, a 2nd Degree Felony.

It’s time for the media to focus on why law enforcement won’t allow potential victims of illegal towing in their communities to call their department’s 311 or 911 and file an offense report for an illegal tow. Other law enforcement agencies allow this type of offense report, is investigated, criminal charges filed, warrants obtained and arrest are made. Why is that Dallas and Fort Worth and other outlying law enforcement agencies allow these criminal enterprises to flourish at the expense of the public. Those are the questions that need to be asked!

Many cities in the North Texas area fail to regulate the nonconsent towing fee, which they have the power to do with an ordinance, instead of letting towing companies charge extremely high fees.

For those of you have been burned from being towed off private property, please contact your State representatives and senator with the request to increase the penalty for violating to Texas Towing Act to a Class B instead of the Class C, so law enforcement agencies can’t ignore the criminal offenses being committed behind illegal towing.

Email, call and write your local city councils and mayors to regulate the nonconsent towing fee and to require the wrecker driver to release your vehicle at no charge if caught within the parking lot. These are issues that other cities (Austin) around the state have already addressed.

I urge you to visit to educate yourself about private parking lot towing scams and how vehicle storage facilities attempt to conceal who authorized the towing of your vehicle.

In the end, I just told everyone property manager or other vendor at the trade show, "I will not sacrifice my integrity for the sake of profit, so don't expect something for nothing"!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Corruption: Tow Operators and Owners

Another Saturday has passed, but the calls keep coming as vehicle owners, are being taken advantage of across our great state of Texas. In Austin, if a wrecker driver, violates the "wrecker ordinance" that clearly states if the owner or operate catches them before becoming "fully ready to transport", there can be no charge, and if they refuse to release the vehicle, towing become illegal.

I have a hard time understanding, why a wrecker driver, this latest one, working for Assured Towing, thinks the commission for the illegal tow he makes is worth more to him, than the $1064.00 citation he will be issued, as soon as the Wrecker Enforcement Detective receives the case (08-5061092) filed by the victim, that contacted us via our website. The conduct of this wrecker driver, knowingly violating the city ordinance, should send a message to property managers regarding this towing company, who, incidentally, does not have a good reputation with APD.

A tow truck owned by J&J Towing of Austin was stopped last night for a traffic violation, upon inspection, a wrecker enforcement detective discovered a fraudulent vehicle inspection sticker on the tow truck, which was removed and the tow truck ordered out of service. Most people would never think of stealing a valid inspection sticker from another vehicle and placing it on their vehicle, but, this is the type of business Frank Sapp operates with J&J Towing.

How a property manager or parking facility owner can sleep at night, unaware the towing company they hired, is committing criminal acts against their residents, guest, tenants and customers. But, the next morning, the office is open, your mad residents are very upset because their vehicles were towed. One resident from an apartment complex in the Houston area was towed because he had no parking permit, but never received any notice from management that parking permits were being used.

Still, unsuspecting vehicle owners or operators are being forced to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to get their vehicles back, money a lot of people don't have to spare, especially, when they receive no notification.

Law enforcement agencies across the state are doing your citizens a disservice by not addressing the criminal activity that flourishes within the towing industry in your community. Simply ignoring the fact that a towing company, parking facility and vehicle storage facility are engaging in criminal activity against the citizens does not tread water with us or the law enforcement agencies that "DO" uphold the law and hold these wrecker drivers responsible for their criminal conduct.

Municipalities with a police department, should license any wrecker driver that performs a nonconsent tow, from their city limits. The license should prohibit a driver convicted of sex crimes, auto theft, assaults and other serious offenses. The state issued license through TDLR sets the minimum requirements, as local governments are increasing the requirements to keep their community safe from convicted serial rapist from coming in contact with these types of individuals.

Municipalities should regulate the nonconsent towing fees to avoid your citizens from being financially devastated by high towing fees.

The motoring public must remain vigilant when parking your vehicle in a parking lot, as your chances of becoming the next victim of a criminal wrecker driver are high!

Property managers and owners are being lead to believe from their towing company they have nothing to worry about regarding towing, but, it is very much not true, as WE recommend to every victims that contacts us, to go after the parking facility, not the towing company, when seeking monetary damages for illegal towing.

A property manager must asked themselves one question when hiring a towing company, "am I going to sacrifice my integrity for the sake of profit"?

If you accept "anything" for free or at a cost nobody else can buy for, your going to lose and lose financially in Court, no doubt about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Attempting to Protect Property Manager by Towing Company Criminal Activity

A large majority vehicle storage facilities across Texas are failing to provide the name, address and phone number to whom authorized the towing, of vehicle without the owner or operator consent. In a continued effort by towing companies to protect their property managers from lawsuits for noncompliance of State Law, motorist are getting wiser to this losing game.

Time and time again, I receive phone calls from people who have seen their vehicles towed during the middle of the night, for reasons, that the wrecker driver determines is a violation.

Several towing companies that offer parking lot striping as a package deal to retain a towing contract with an apartment complex are painting the parking space stripes closer than the original parking lot striping, creating a nightmare, for vehicle owners who drive larger vehicles. It's impossible for a Ford Expedition to park in a compact parking space, without touching the white stripe..

Of course, those property management companies, that accept these package deals from towing companies, never think about the end results, when they are being questioned before a Judge, regarding accepting a financial benefit from their towing company.

TAA property managers SHOULD read their REDBOOK, because these regulations for towing are here to stay and towing companies will change their company's name, as your company will be left holding the Judgment for the criminal activity you authorized!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Judge Rules In Favor of Towing Victim for $12,508.00

Just in this morning, a victim of illegal towing called to say that a Hidalgo County Judge returned a $12,508.00 judgment against Harrelson Property Management Inc, for seven statutory violation of the Occupations Code that regulates private property towing. This matter involved a property manager, who testified under oath, that the towing company gave her the towing signs, parking permits, in addition to striping the parking lot at no cost to the parking facility.

This judgment, like many others, are holding property management companies employed by property owners of parking facilities, financially responsible, for violating the Law.

This incident began from a visit to our website, that empowered a victim, with the information, counseling and state law in hand, to take this issue to Court, which ended in his favor, all because his vehicle was towed for an expired inspection sticker.

Parking facility managers and owners should think twice about accepting kickbacks from towing companies, as in the end, you will be held responsible.

The are actually three types of actions available to victims of illegal towing, (1) Probable Cause Hearing, (2) Justice or District Court for Statutory Violations, and (3) DTPA.

It is wise just to obey the law, instead of taking the advice of a towing company.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Misuse of Private Information by Convicted Felons

Several towing companies are obtaining your personal information from your vehicle registration information linked to the license plates on your vehicle thru their access contract with TxDMV.

TxDMV allows Vehicle Storage Facilities thru a contract to obtain vehicle registration information for vehicles that are stored without the consent of the vehicle owner to verify ownership. But, many towing company employees are running registrations in violation of the Driver Protection Act for reasons prohibited by State and Federal Law.

If you ask a police officer to run someone's vehicle license plate, they will tell you they are not allowed to, but any towing company that operates their own vehicle storage facility, any of their employees or friends, who could be convicted felons, could obtain your personal information.

I know this is happening, because I was told by a TxDMV staff person, that my vehicle license plate had been ran by 4 different towing companies numerous times, yet my vehicle has never been towed or stored at any of the 4 towing company's vehicle storage facility.

Should you receive a certified letter from a towing company advising you that your vehicle's registration or inspection sticker is expired, subject to being towed, your personal information has been compromised.

Keep in mind, the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations has issued Vehicle Storage Facility Employee Licenses to thousands of convicted felons over the past 3 years.

Credit Card Abuse - Wrecker Drivers and Dispatchers

Your traveling down the highway and your vehicle breaks down, leaving you stranded. Your first instinct, is to call a tow truck, or just luckily wave one down. Wow, how lucky could you get, a tow truck pulls up in front of my vehicle. The wrecker driver walks up to my window and asked if I need help, I replied, by vehicle stopped and won't start.

The wrecker driver tells me he can tow my vehicle to the dealer, which is just 10 miles away, oh cool I said to myself, so, the wrecker driver hooks up my car and off we go.

From hearing in news reports about wrecker drivers, I asked the wrecker driver (Benjamin Guerrero) if he had the required licenses to tow my care, replies yes, but could not produce either one to me. Then we pull into the dealership, I was feeling much better, when asked how much was the tow, the wrecker driver said $90.

Since I didn't have the cash, I asked if a credit card would work, with a smile, the wrecker driver, said sure. So, I give my credit card number with the expiration date to the wrecker driver, thinking this guy was so nice and polite, completes the paper and gives me an Austin Express Wrecker receipt.

About a week later, I get a call from the fraud protection department of my MasterCard Platinum Card, regarding several unauthorized charges that neither myself or husband recognized.

To make a long story short, that wrecker driver that towed me, he and the dispatcher (Frank Rodriguez) that both worked at Austin Express, confirmed by a manager, Monica Ramos, on bond for tampering with governmental records, were stealing the credit card numbers from people who paid to pickup their vehicles after being towed, or just broken down on the highway.

All three of these Austin Express Wrecker employees were charged with felony offenses, with only one still in jail unable to post bond.

Benjamin Guerrero 9/1/85 Warrant D1DC08302425
Frank Rodriguez 10/14/76 Warrant D1DC08302578

From the conversation I had with the detectives, Austin Express Wrecker and Tow Time have very few properly licensed wrecker drivers.

You must be extremely careful when using a credit card to pay for towing services and vehicle storage fees.

What this incident tells us, is that some in the towing and vehicle storage facility industry even being licensed by the Texas Department of License and Regulation are outright criminals who could at anytime commit a criminal act without the average person even knowing they were scammed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Austin Area Wrecker Driver Arrested

Over the weekend, a wrecker driver working for J&J Towing, probably wished he didn't come in contact with an Austin resident, that knew, that if he the caught the wrecker driver, still in the parking lot, there would be no charge. It turns out the vehicle owner was persistent in not paying, so the dumbass wrecker driver call 911 for a police officer to come the parking lot.

When the police officers arrive, the wrecker driver mumbles while the vehicle owner was telling the officer his vehicle was not "fully prepared to transport" and had witnesses to back up the story.

Then comes good part, the officer ask the wrecker driver, for his city issued wrecker license, the new TDLR operators license and his driver license, in addition to the vehicle owner. This is a common practice for the Austin Police to check for warrants.

Oh oh, the officer tells the wrecker driver to place his hands behind his back, to be handcuffed. Who would have possibly known that the wrecker driver would have been wanted for outstanding warrants. The vehicle owner did not have no warrants, so he was free to take his vehicle and return to what he was doing.

Then the police officer calls for their contract towing company, Southside Wrecker, to come impound the J&J Towing truck.

How sweet could it have turned out, the cops really didn't appreciate verbal abuse from the wrecker driver, so they transported his butt to the county jail.

As we always tell people, attempt to catch the wrecker driver while hooking up your vehicle in the parking lot, they have to release it for free, if they refuse, call the 911.

Property Managers Often Accept Kickbacks

It is not uncommon for an apartment complex property manager, supervisor and/or owner, to ask for and receive financial incentives in return for a contract to tow vehicles.

Some towing company owners goes an far as to advertise in online and print publications, encouraging a property manager, supervisors and owners to conspire to commit a criminal act against their own residents, at the expense of the vehicle owner or operator.

It is not uncommon for your property manager to sacrifice there integrity for the sake of profit from a towing company.

I on more than one occasion have heard property managers brag about trips to Las Vegas, as a reward for the income generated from towing vehicles from apartment complex parking lots, for the towing company.

Anyone who chooses to live in an apartment complex should ask if they have a towing company that prowls the parking lot, to tow vehicles without warning.

You can almost be sure that if a towing company’s name is on the red and white towing sign, that is supposed to posted as you enter of the parking facility from a public street, the sign belongs to the towing company, not the apartment complex.

Property Manager, Supervisor, and Owners should heed the warning, that you are responsible for your parking facility being in compliance with State Law.

Even if your towing company’s contract states they will hold you harmless from towing vehicles with your authorization, you are still subject to criminal prosecution for violating the Towing Act.

You most likely been assured by your towing company, you pose no danger, but, that is a lie.

Another misleading issue, is the Certificate of Insurance, that some towing companies provide with their towing contracts. Unless that Certificate provides General Liability with $2M each occurrence, your property and residents are not protected. You should read and verify the coverage, before signing a contract with a towing company.

On November 18th, I will be attending the Apartment Association of Tarrant County’s Trade Show, as guest speaker for Eric’s Towing and encourage property managers and supervisors, to learn the facts of about what will happen to your property management company if you choose to violate the Texas Towing Act.

Remember, it only takes “one” violation of the Texas Towing Act to be found guilty in Justice Court. Not only will you be liable for your attorneys fee, but the three times plus $300 judgment, the victim’s attorney fees and a criminal record.

It’s so easy to comply, instead of costing your property owner a lot of undue heartache, bad publicity and a drain your revenue.