When there isn't enough available parking, many people park in the lot of another business or other nearby lot.
But when they return, their cars are gone. While many people initially panic at the thought that their car was stolen, it's much more common that they have been the victim of predatory towing. Predatory towing occurs when tow truck companies purposely look for cars parked in unauthorized areas and quickly tow them away so that they can charge the owner high fees-sometimes hundreds of dollars-to get their cars back. Towing companies may routinely patrol private parking lots to nab cars that don't have a parking lease or receipt clearly displayed or if they see the driver enter a home or business not owned by the parking lot owner.
Towing companies usually charge fees for each day they hold the car, which means that anyone who can't immediately pay the fine may find the fees stacking up faster than they can pay them. In many cases, the towing companies won't even allow drivers to retrieve necessary items from their cars. Many will only accept cash payment, and not check or credit card.
While it is legal for private property owners to have unauthorized vehicles towed from their parking lots, there are many restrictions on when and how they can tow cars. First and foremost, the owner must post a clearly visible sign warning that unauthorized vehicles may be towed. The sign must be made of reflective material easily visible by headlights, and letters must be a minimum of three inches tall. Signs must also list the days and hours when towing threats are enforced, and display the name and phone number of the towing company and the fees for a towed vehicle. No other company may tow vehicles.
Pennsylvania residents whose vehicles have been towed should question whether they may have been the victim of predatory towing, especially if they did not see a sign marking the area as a towing zone. Anyone who believes they may have been a predatory towing victim can contact the experienced attorneys at Robert Peirce & Associates for a free consultation at 866-273-1941 or online.