Towing investigation turns up violations

Riverside Towing received nine violations in one day

Monday, March 14, 2011 - 6:17pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) -- THIS IS AN FOX44 UPDATE: One local towing company was the target of an investigation done by state police back in 2009. In a report released by Louisiana State Police, Riverside Towing received nine complaints in a single night.

"That company in particular, we have received several complaints on them and have followed up on them," says Trooper Russell Graham. "There were several of those complaints that were founded. State police did their investigations and said, 'yes, this is a valid complaint.'''

State police had observed a number of towing violations in the LSU area, so they set up a plan called Operation Illegal Tow. During that operation, several troopers were assigned to unmarked vehicles. Their job was to observe any violations of the Towing and Storage Act committed by tow trucks operating in the targetted area.

On the night of September 8th, 2009, police found problems with invoice statements, licensing displays, and improper towing.

State troopers found out that Riverside Towing charged an ORSV (Official Record of Stored Vehicle) of $25, without submitting those records to Towing and Recovery Proff of Lousiana for processing until the following morning in some cases. TRPL charges Riverside Towing seven dollars to file those ORSVs, but if the vehicle has already been released before the company files the report, then Riverside doesn't have to pay $6.50 of that total charge. From August 28, 2009 to August 30, 2009, Riverside filed 66 ORSVs after the cars had been released to their owners.

Police also found that the signatures on the invoices from that night were not from the people the vehicles were released to. Instead, the employees signed the invoices. When questioned about it, the report shows that the the owner of Riverside Towing said "because that way, they do not have to have an angry customer sign the invoice or get mad and tear the invoice up." According to state police, the person the vehicle was released to must sign it.

The report showed that employees with Riverside Towing, including the owner of the company, taking cars from one spot and leaving them in the Wal-Mart parking lot nearby. Then, another tow truck picked them up and took them to the storage facility.

"That's against the law," says Graham. "When you tow a vehicle, you have to take it straight to the storage yard."

You may recall-students voiced complaints about the company's business policies, so much that one student created a Facebook Page in May of 2010.

"This is not a problem that started yesterday or last year," says creator of the page Spencer Drury. "This has been going on for awhile. It's snowballing at this point."

Drury says the violations in the report don't surprise him. "Everything the police found, people have already said," he says.

Drury says the report helps his cause. "It gives voice to every single person in our group," he says.

Now, Drury will take his cause to local agencies and lawmakers, hoping they will take action. "They should recognize that this is a real issue that people care about," he says.

Drury recently started a petition against predatory non-consensual towing. So far, he has around 500 signatures, but he's hoping for more. The plan is to deliver the petition to governing bodies with the authority to reform some of the towing practices he believes to be unfair. You can find that petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/endpredatorytowingnow

Riverside towing was not available for comment today, but representatives from the company did speak with us during our original report.

You can find several reports from state police attached below.

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