Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Notice to Law Enforcement - Criminal Predatory Towing Alert

Texas area law enforcement agencies need to increase enforcement of State towing laws to protect your communities from predatory towing companies operating in your jurisdictions now.  Cities Chiefs are encouraged to push for passage of their own towing regulations or use one identical to San Antonio.

To allow tow truck operators, many of which are convicted felons, to roam parking lots in the early morning hours towing vehicles for expired inspection or registration stickers without the required 10 day Certified Letter being sent is a crime, dollar value of vehicle for felony theft charge.

No contract or agreement that authorizes the removal of a vehicle from private property can bypass State Law which is an arrestable offense.

Officers while on patrol would be wise to question tow trucks towing vehicles with orange stickers bearing expired stickers, to determine if probable cause existed to remove the vehicle they are towing or stealing.  According to one police department in South Texas, strict enforcement of existing laws allowed the recovery of more than 300 stolen vehicles from seven different towing companies, all of which are still licensed by TDLR to operate.

Tow operators are not authorized to make entry into a motor vehicle for purposes of towing the vehicle under the non-consent tow provisions of Occupations Code 2308

Use of a “slim jim" or other device is not authorized under the towing statute or rules.  

After review of Occupations Code 2308, specifically section 2308.255, a tow operator is only authorized to "remove and store" unauthorized vehicles.  

Nothing in Occupations Code 2308.255 or the balance of that chapter explicitly or implicitly authorizes a tow operator to break into or otherwise enter a locked vehicle with a and limited purpose of removal and storage of the vehicle.   

The public is advised If they observe a tow operator trying to unlock a vehicle door without the owner with a “slim jim” or other device without the consent of the owner or operator, call 911 to report a burglary of a vehicle in progress.

If any law enforcement agency needs assistance in investigation techniques and prosecution of illegal towing offenses, please contact either Austin Police Detective Loosier at 512-974-8122 or San Antonio Police Detective Glen Michalek at 210-207-2348.

Simply ignoring the law encourages criminal activity to continue in your community.