If you’re still not convinced that illegal towing is a huge problem in Southern California, you’ve got to read this story. The Riverside County District Attorney and several police departments are investigating a local towing company called Desert Automotive Specialists, for illegally towing as many as 2,500 cars, sometimes with people still inside them. According to an article in the Desert Sun, sometimes this company paints curbs red just to make people think they parked in a tow-away zone!
Once they had towed away vehicles with their owners kicking and screaming, this company charged astronomical fees to release those vehicles back to the desperate owners. Who were these unfortunate owners? Mostly Spanish-speaking folks and seniors. Sounds like a pretty targeted and well-planned operation to me.
Unfortunately, illegal towing is as common as traffic on the freeways in this part of the country. In fact, we are representing several clients who have complaints that bear eerie similarity to this one. Their cars were towed away when parked legally. They were charged exorbitant release fees. Their vehicles were damaged. Not to mention the trauma of losing your only means of transport. Last year, we filed a class action lawsuit against several towing companies in Southern California, the first of its kind in this state.
These illegal towers are taking consumers for granted. But our clients are not taking it lying down. Instead they are fighting back. The city of Los Angeles prosecuted some of these operators to some extent. We hope the Riverside County DA will follow the lead and do the same. A lot of these illegal operators have been emboldened over the years because they’ve never been caught. Clearly, that needs to change.
Will we make millions on our class action lawsuit? That’s highly unlikely. But we’re consumer attorneys and we believe that it is our responsibility to fight for consumer rights. These are horrible violations of our rights as consumers. These wrongdoers must be held accountable for their actions and we won’t rest until those operating unethically and unconscionably are put out of business. This is nothing short, as the article says, “a local version of organized crime.” It must be stopped.