Monday, January 31, 2011

Delaware and South Towing Company Violates Indiana Law; Tows Vehicles in Violation of 24 Hour Tagging Rule

The Indianapolis Star reports:

About 50 people gathered at a Downtown tow lot late Saturday to dispute the mass towing of vehicles from a parking lot.

Police learned of the problem around 11 p.m. Saturday when they were called to Delaware and South Towing, 310 S. Delaware St., where angry owners of the towed vehicles had gathered. A police report said the vehicles had been towed from a parking lot at 510 Madison Ave. The police report said the lot is operated by Clear Channel Outdoor, an advertising company that has billboards on the lot.

Owners of the vehicles told police they had paid a man $20 to park. They told police there were no signs telling them the lot was off-limits, but those signs appeared just before the vehicles were towed. Police said they found what appeared to have been fresh metal shavings near where the signs were located.
The story overlooks an even bigger racket than the person taking the $20 for fake parking. Towing companies troll the city looking for vehicles parked in private business lots. They then tow the vehicles and hold them hostage for an exorbinant fees, generally much higher than their regular towing rates. The owner has no choice but to pay the ransom to get their vehicle back. I wouldn't be shocked if the towing companies then kicked back some of these fees to the business.

The practice is also illegal. 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 the vehicle before the expiration of the 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, which is often when the towing takes place.

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. While people may complain that the law subverts the right of the private property owner, the law is still the law. If you don't like the law, the answer is to go to the legislature and get it changed, not simply ignore it. I would suggest though that the reason the legislature did pass the law is exactly because of practices such as towing companies trolling for vehicles in private business lots and then holding those vehicles for a ransom.

It is surprising that a class action lawsuit against the towing companies and the businesses who work with them, has not been filed. Given the hundreds of thousands of dollars in towing fees being collected from this illegal practice, it is only a matter of time.

Note: I have written on this subject before when A-Mass Towing decided to tow the vehicles of several people who had come to watch the Veteran's Day parade.

32 comments:

Downtown Indy said...

This time the people had to pay $185. The last time this occurred, the people paid around $300.

I am sure when the newly devised unified parking contract scheme goes into effect, the pricing will be much more consistent -- set at the high end, to be sure.

Jon said...

Here's hoping the 50 people slammed by the towing company seek compensation via the courts.

Nicolas Martin said...

The rights of property owners supersede the laws that violate those rights. Tough luck for trespassers.

It is doubtful that many people even know of a 24-hour law. They just take the risk and bawl when they get burned.

Does the 24-hour law make an exception for a car parked directly in front of a driveway entrance, blocking all traffic in and out?

Unigov said...

The code cited refers specifically to 'abandoned' vehicles and as such is inapplicable in such instances.

"Two things must occur for property to be abandoned: (1) an act by the owner that clearly shows that he or she has given up rights to the property; and (2) an intention that demonstrates that the owner has knowingly relinquished control over it."

See:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Abandoned+(law)

Paul K. Ogden said...

NM,

Yes, the law does make an exception for that. And no "property rights" do not trump a law passed by the legislature. Unless you can show the law is unconstitutional, it applies.

Unigov,

I looked into that. The definition of "abandoned" in the code clearly covers the situation where someone leaves there car on private property like what happened. You're looking at a general defintion from a dictionary. That doesn't control over the statutory definition. The statute clearly applies. In fact, if you look closely, some businesses do it right and do tag cars before towing.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would have add that it would make no sense for the law to require tagging of an "abandoned" car but not require tagging one left by a motorist for an undetermined amount of time. (Assuming you could even figure out which it is.) If anything the law would be the reverse. Nonetheless, if you read all the statutes in the part of the code you will see that "abandoned" does refer to a motorist leaving a car for an undetermined amount of time.

dcrutch said...

If we care so much about the Downtown experience that we fund a new Pacer scoreboard and exorbinate Super Bowl preparations while reducing library hours, why do we allow this Wild West hold-up of people trying to patronize Downtown events?

This is how the incumbent city administration is going to get voters on their side for November's election? Or, this is to assure big donations from the parking industry?

Not that parking has been an area of concern regarding civic corruption by any means...

Kilroy said...

Cars parked on private property do not meet the definition of "Abandoned Vehicle". See 9-13-2-1.

Good try, but your crusade is lacking legal support.

Cato said...

Kilroy, you're a nazi moron.

Sir Victor said...

Hey Cato, I must say. Your right Kilroy is a Moron. When a towing company steals, I meant tows a car without the owners permission in Indiana. They are required by indiana code 9-22-1-19 to fill out a form called (Abandoned Vehicle Report),and to send a copy of it to the BMV. Now. When I take this scumbag to court to recover my losses and his attorney tries to say the vehicle wasn't abandoned and the law doesn't apply. I'm going to take exhibit "A" out of my pocket. Which would be a copy of that (Abandoned Vehicle Report) with Mr.Scumbag Towing Companies name on it. and present it to the Judge and state, your honor, Mr. Scumbag filled out this form saying it was abandoned. so it must have been. Now, regardless of any Code. The towing company admits its an abandoned vehicle when they send that form to the BMV. You can't even make an argument out of it.
Kilroy must be one of those tools that steals/tows innocent, hardworking peoples cars.

dcrutch said...

With due respect to the legal perspective- do we care about our visitors having a positive Downtown experience that makes them want to return and tell their friends about it, or we want them to swear never to return to this God-forsaken-hole (and tell their friends)?

Kilroy said...

So much for a respectful discourse.

Marco said...

The abandoned vehicle statute applies to a third party. If somebody parks a car in my driveway or yard I can call the minute the step out of the car and have it towed.

If any vehicle is parked on any piece of public or private property and it is to be removed by the authority of a third party (i.e. law enforcement, parking regulation people, etc.) it has be tagged first and then after a set period of time can be picked up by a wrecker. This applies to vehicles parked behind abandoned houses, vehicles that are clearly inoperable, etc.

There's obviously an issue here and some shadiness going on, but it doesn't have anything to do with a violation of the abandoned vehicle statute. The fact that the 'private property' in question is in fact a parking lot definitely thickens the plot, but I think you're approaching the problem from the wrong angle. Hope this helps...

Sir Victor said...

Marco. You make absolutely no sense
I wish you did. but you don't

Sir Victor said...

Third Party, What code are you referencing when you say third party Marco. You my friend, are a tool,and no service to society.

Marco said...

Hmm, I'm trying to think of how I can repost using smaller words.

Let's revisit my example. Person A parks car A on Person B's private property (say my driveway.) I don't have to wait 24 or 48 hours to have a car towed out of my own driveway, regardless of who the vehicle belongs to or how it got there. Not sure where this idea comes from, but if people believe they cannot tow a car off of their own property simply because it is not theirs I would like to see more specific citations (because there aren't any.) In order for an individual or entity to remove the vehicle from said property who is NOT Person A (the property owner) or Person B (the vehicle owner) it has to be tagged as an abandoned vehicle and a requisite period of time has to pass before a contracted wrecker service picks up the vehicle.

Another example: someone ditches a car in your yard and you call the police to remove the vehicle. The police cannot tow the car off of your lot because it is on private property. They can tag it as abandoned and have it removed after 48 hours, but since they didn't put the car there and it's YOUR property and not theirs, they cannot simply do a public tow of the vehicle because YOU are asking for it. YOU can have the car towed either at YOUR expense, or some wrecker companies will remove the car and stick it to the carowner when (if) they come to pick up the vehicle. If the vehicle is not claimed after so many days (and so many multiples of a per diem charge) the vehicle is sold either at auction or to a scrapyard.

Hope this helps Mr. Victor...

Sir Victor said...

Marco , you didn't answer my question. What code are you referencing while you go on with your rhetorical interpretations of the law.Just need the code man. no more rheteric.

Marco said...

Oooooh, sorry Mr. Victor, in your first post you said you didn't understand so I was trying to use smaller words. I glossed over the second one because, well, there wasn't much in the way of substance.

Title 9, Article 22, Chapter 1, Subsections 15 and 16 of the Indiana Legal Code lists very clearly the laws regarding towing vehicles from private property. I'm not even going to pretend that you are actually going to LOOK it up, but I'll tell you that Subsection 16(b) lists the exemption for abandoned vehicle waiting periods.

Seeing as how you've posted 3 (three!) times and haven't even spelled out a remotely tangible disagreement, rebuttal, or counterargument to support your opposition (well, you haven't even said as much but judging by the 2nd grade jargon it's a safe assumption you disagree with me) I'll save you the trouble of spending hours surfing the internet looking for something to substantiate whatever ridiculous claim you're going to cross-examine me with. I'll just take my gold star, chalk up another one in the win column, and move on. You can go back to playing with your crayons, no hard feelings fella.

Sir Victor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Victor said...

You are not very good at listening. For one I never said I didn't understand.Two, I never asked for an explanation from you nor did I want one, Three, I only asked what code you were referencing. Four, asked not for your rhetoric. Nothing seems to register.If you want to be a good attorney, you should become better at listening. ("You have two ears and one mouth. Use Them Proportionately")

Kilroy said...

Thanks, Marco. Maybe now people will get off the inapplicable abandoned vehicle bandwagon.

Richard said...

I had my car towed and I really got upset with matter. Wish I had the information then I would had not wasted time getting upset.

Justice said...

As a non attorney it is not clear to me, after reading the statute, what the penalty is for the parking lot owner that tows without tagging?

Sycamore student said...

I live in an apartment complex and was notified previously within the last week that we were to get a new parking pass or be towed. Well a week went by and I ended up getting towed immediately after midnight the night that the pass was set to expire. The apartment complex office was closed and the parking lot was half empty, being that most students go home for the weekend, so my car became parked illegally at midnight. Would this code not protect me under sections 9-22-1-16 (b) as it was not an emergency and under 9-22-1-18 as they did not give me the required 48 hours.

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Nabeel said...

Towing is the process in which vehicles are often towed in the case of accident, collision, breakdown or may be impounded for legal reasons.

Vince Fury said...

A company of tow truck in perth carefully inspects first the situation before towing any vehicles. This is to make sure that no law is violated when they do the towing.

Hugh Parizeau said...

The worst experience for me is when my car was towed after my completion of a Fully maintained Novated leases. Lucky for me, I was able to make some negotiations with the towing company.

Justin Leo Rodriguez said...

It's bad enough that a car owner has been trolled by a towing company, what more if this situation happens to those who drive leased cars? It's double the problem. But it's also a bad move to disregard the law. We may not like it, but we have to put up with it.

"...the law is still the law. If you don't like the law, the answer is to go to the legislature and get it changed, not simply ignore it." - CORRECT.
- Justin LR

alicestanley said...

If I’m one of those people, I think I’d do the same thing as well. That man is really good in disguising as one of the staff there. They should be aware next time they park their car even if they’ve been visiting a place regularly.

-Alice Stanley

Earl Finnegan said...

I'm happy that all of my experiences with professional towing services in Tallahassee FL were when I was having auto problems not being towed. It's a small victory, but it's good enough for me.

Damien Goree said...

is this 24hr law still in affect?