According to the report:
The towing company says they were well within their legal right. 24-Hour News 8 crews confirmed there are "Permit Only Parking" signs all over the lot on Illinois and St. Clair streets.It is true that there is no law charging how much towing companies can charge, at least that I can find. That's a problem because this is not a situation where someone with a towed vehicle can shop around for the best price. They're at the mercy of the towing company to get their car back.
However, the charge to get their cars back is $235. The city said the towing company is within their rights to charge that much.
"A-Mass Towing intends no disrespect to any veteran or their families, but we have an obligation to monitor and protect the private property of our clients,” the statement said.
Kate Johnson with the city’s department of code enforcement says she's heard the concerns about towing companies. She says the city does not regulate how much a private towing company can charge.
"There are (currently) 24 businesses that are licensed, and we are certainly open to exploring whether or not a towing company maybe require that we regulate them via a license," Johnson said.
However, it was illegal for A-Mass Towing to tow those vehicles in the first place.
Indiana law, in particular, IC 9-22-1-15, requires a vehicle that is left on private property to be tagged with a notice that it is going to be towed if it is not removed within 24 hours. IC 9-22-1-16 then allows for the removal of the vehicle by the private property owner if the owner has not removed after 24 hours. IC 9-22-1-18 lets a police officer remove the vehicle after 48 hours.
Indiana law provides an exception to the 24 hour rule if there is an emergency or the vehicle is interfering with business operations. Obviously that doesn't apply if a store is closed.
Here's another thing people don't know. The posting of a no parking/towing sign has no legal effect whatsoever. There is no exception to the 24 hour rule for property owners who post signs.
I had the same thing happen to me. When I went to Traffic Court last year, I found the tiny lot filled to capacity. I parked at a Dairy Queen just down the road, which wasn't open and has a huge lot. An hour or so later I came back to find my car towed. I sued Dairy Queen and the towing company in small claims court and got my $200 towing bill back because it wasn't tagged for 24 hours.
Now I'm not saying the law is necessarily fair or right for private property owner. I could see the situation where people are constantly having their private lot used for parking on the weekend and that could present a problem. But those who claim the veterans should know the rules are guilty themselves of not knowing the rules.
Nonetheless, I don't have a lot of sympathy for these towing companies. The way towing companies "monitor" private lots to jump at the chance to tow vehicles and then charge folks an arm and a leg to get them back is a big racket that needs to be stopped.