Friday, May 8, 2009

Bubbles, Suds & Tow Trucks

Interesting Q&A in the May 6 issue of TimeOut Chicago:

Q. While doing laundry at the SpinCycle at 4887 North Broadway, we left for ten minutes for a beer. Soon after we returned, our car was towed from its lot. When we called Lincoln Towing, they said "Illinois state law" dictates that leaving a business even for a moment means you can be towed. The laundromat owner intervened and we got our car back sans charge, but was the tow-truck guy in the right?

A. "Technically, yes," says Brian Sterling, spokesman for the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates towing under the Illinois Commercial Relocation of Trespassing Vehicles Law. "If the lot is posted with a warning sign and you leave without notifying the business owner, your car is considered unauthorized." In practice, if your car is towed after you patronize a business and briefly leave the premises, you shouldn't have to pay, says Roxanne Gardner of Property Solutions Group, which manages the laundromat's shopping center. "In those cases, we'll almost always get their money refunded. That's happened probably ten times." To avoid the hassle, it's best to stay put while you launder. If you feel you've been towed unfairly, contact the ICC police at 847-294-4326 or consult the towing guide at - John Greenfield


  1. That place is wild, I've seen a guy in the lot on his cell phone talking to a tow truck driver trying to find cars to tow.

    "Black Honda Civic -- Hurry before he gets back!"

  2. So.....all of the Wilson Yard construction workers who are parking at the Jewel everyday are subject to being towed????

  3. This is quite a common occurrence with lots that have signs posted. In the early 2000s I worked at in business at Clark and Wellington in Lakeview that had the same policy.

    Lincoln Towing would literally tow around 5-10 cars per day. They don't mess around. They'll hook the cars and drag them out parking spaces if they have to. There was also a security guard who would watch the lot and call Lincoln to come get the cars.

    Finally, Lincoln Towing literally stalks parking lots, circling the block etc.

  4. This usually happens in smaller lots but could happen in bigger ones as well. Sometimes the towing company does not tow you, they boot your car instead and leave. You have to call them when you have the money to pay so they will come back and take it off. I have not noticed a sign at Jewel/World Gym that you could be towed if you leave the property. But you could always ask a manager why they allow so many construction workers to park there when customers can have such a hard time finding a spot.

  5. Scouts are all over the north side. They'll watch a lot for Lincoln Towing because they scout fees are easy, quick money.

    Ask the two truck operators about it. They'll deny the whole story.

    There are scouts at the parking lot on the Northwest corner of Clark and Wilson.

  6. [So.....all of the Wilson Yard construction workers who are parking at the Jewel everyday are subject to being towed????]

    Maybe. You might even slow down construction at Wilson Yard.

    You might want to ask the Jewel General Manager if they have an arrangement with Walsh. They probably do.

  7. I've went to that laundrymat twice to wash some larger items. I saw, in one case, a guy just scoping the lot while sitting in a car. A guy parked along the Broadway side, wasn't out of that car for 15 seconds while crossing Broadway and a tow truck was hooking him up immediately. No exaggeration. Maybe he was running across the street to throw something in the mailbox and returning to one of the strip mall businesses. It was late in the evening and the lot was at less than 1/2 capacity. Quite ridiculous.

  8. It's open season on any city dweller who owns a car. There are cameras at intersections, undercover police lurking to catch motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians, expensive parking and parking meter rates, and highly aggressive towing and booting policies.

    A lot of the surveillance is done via secret camera. If you own a car and make a mistake, get ready to pay the price!

  9. There's a really scary flip side to this: Thieves use tow trucks to steal cars all the time. I used to drive a big ol' American classic land yacht. Not a week went by that someone didn't offer to buy it from me. Late one night, I parked at my bank to use the ATM. I was literally ten feet away from my parked car, on bank property, when a tow truck came in the lot and started to hook up the car. I turned around and yelled to ask them what they were doing. They said the bank had called in a complaint about my car being parked there unauthorized. I hadn't even been there a minute and the bank was long closed. When I took out the disposable camera I used to carry in my purse, the tow guy hauled ass out of the parking lot. I always wonder how many people see a car being hooked up and think it's disabled or parked illegally when it's actually being stolen.

  10. Kadee don't forget potholes the size of small cars we have to avoid on a daily basis. As I said last Friday on "Conspiracy Friday" this is all part of a "Green" agenda.

    I am all to familiar with these "scouts" for Lincoln Towing. A few years ago one of them beat up my fists with his face after having my car towed and then calling me a "motherf#*ker" (Long story) but I did get my car back without paying the fees.

  11. Once upon a time I worked for one of Lincoln's competitors. (They conducted business in a much more ethical manner for the most part, which is why they didn't last long.) Anyway, what you should know about "tow lots" is that your chances of being towed immediately, or perhaps not at all, are dependent on the type of contract that the business has with the tow co. In a heavy-duty lot they may do the full-court-press with scouts, trucks on call only a block away, etc. In other locations the owner may just want a sign on the lot as a "warning" but may or may not utilize the services depending on how crowded it is, time of day, etc.

    If you stop a tow truck before they actually hitch the car you don't have to pay anything. If you stop it after they have hitched it, but have not yet left the lot, you may have to make only a partial payment. If you discover your car missing after it's been towed, your chances of full refund are practically nil but depending on what kind of case you can make to the owners you may get a partial refund.

    Caveat emptor!

  12. Side not to Gayle, I remember reading in the paper last year that if you return to the property before your car is towed they have to drop it. It is the law.

  13. When I ran the thrift store on sheridan there was a man who lived right across the street in a apartment that faced our lot. He would sit there and if anyone left our property he would radio a drived and they would be there in seconds flat. He did not work for Lincoln pirates out-right. The drivers of the truck hired and paid him by the tow he reported to them. Thats what they did at our lot area and there where never less then 3 tows daily times 7 days a week.......

  14. The lot at Clark and Wilson utilizes a scout and especially on Saturdays they get many cars.

    The scout seems to be able to park 24 hours a day in the lot with impunity for his help.

    The scout drives a dark gray Dodge Ram truck with a pair of brass balls hanging from the trail;er hitch. I am not making this up.

  15. If you park in a lot but leave that lot to go to another place, they can legally tow your car. And IMHO, it's fair. The lot after all is there for the owner or merchant of that lot and his customers. The problem is that there are too many of these tow truck drivers who will simply hook up a car and tow it away from a lot even though they do not have a contract with the owner of that lot. Case in point. I once responded to a call of a vehicle theft. When I arrived I learned that the victim had parked her car in a lot late at night. The next day when she went to retrieve it, it was gone. I ran the plate and discovered that it was towed by a towing company. I contacted them and they stated that they had a contract with the owner of the lot which gave them the right to tow the car. Only problem (for them) was the victim whose car was towed WAS the owner of the lot and she did not have a contract with the towing company. I then completed a Vehicle Theft case report and re-contacted the towing company. After informing them that they were in possesion of a stolen car, a car stolen by them, they sheepishly agreed to return the car to the owner without any fee's which IIRC, were about three hundred dollars. I since learned that this is a common practice and I wonder how many of these victims unknowingly pay the fee's which can be several hundred dollars to get their cars back when in reality they should not have to pay a dime because the car should not have been towed in the first place. Now, whenever I conduct a similar investigation and I learn that the car was legally authorized to be in that lot and should not have been towed, I complete a Vehicle Theft Case Report because as far as I'm concerned, while I know where the car is, it's a stolen car. I then contact the towing company and after informing them of the facts, usually get the car back for the owner. If they get nasty, I have no problem making an arrest. IMHO a towing company operating in this manner is guilty of theft. And I think they all do it. I have contacted the ICC numerous times but they seem to be about as useful as breasts on a bull. Another problem is that most Policeman don't really give this much thought and think it's a civil matter. But in most cases, I believe it's a criminal matter, hence my actions. But think about it. Someone takes your car which was legally parked. If a thug did that it is considered theft. Why should anybody else be thought of in a different light simply because they towed it away as opposed to peeling the column and driving it away? A theft is a theft. BTW,I can only use this tactic where the victim's car was legally authorized to park in that lot. I obviously can't do it when the owner parks in the lot and walks away to another store, etc.

  16. This place is notorious as the towing operations are conducted by Lincoln Towing...a known towing predator.

    I no longer frequent any of the businesses in this center as the property manager chose to side with Lincoln towing over me when I simply crossed the street for a newspaper while waiting for a pizza. Technically I too crossed the line and a camped out Lincoln towing guy could only see dollar signs instead of common sence (I was a paying customer...just wating).

    It was an expensive pizza, but that was over two years ago and those merchants have lost far more business since then because of their property manager's relationship with Lincoln Towing.....what goes around comes around...too bad the merchants & I had to pay the price....

  17. Welcome to Chicago! Now get the hell out!! I just had my car towed this evening from the Walgreens parking lot at the corner of Diversey and Halsted. I drove from Peoria to pick up my son who lives right across the street. I ran into his apartment to pee, because, God forbid, I would have to pee after driving 3 hours, then I was going to run into Walgreens and pick up supplies for his apartment and the trip back to Peoria. I left my purse, checkbook, camera and cell phone in my car because I knew I was coming right back out. I was not in my son's apartment 5 minutes when I returned to get my purse and my car was gone. There was a thug sitting in a Chevy Impala on the cell phone watching the lot. I found it interesting there was NO handicapped parking in this lot, and the thug was parked in the spot closest to the store. How in the hell does anyone in Chicago expect the Olympics to play well when there isn't any parking in the city? What a racket Lincoln Towing is!!

  18. And to ChipDouglas...that's such a crock. Your invention of claims that you "beat someone up for your car back" is flawed on so many levels. First off, I sincerely doubt you did that because police would have been on you for assault and battery, locking you up for a year in prison. Secondly, the "scout" is not responsible (nor able) for your car's return. And lastly, once the vehicle is towed, it is the company's discretion whether or not to issue a return. I sincerely doubt that because you were mad, they'd return it to you. Perhaps a line of work that doesn't include lying to cover up childhood bullying would suffice?

    To conclude, Lincoln Towing does everything by the books. Whether it's towing, parking management, security, or anything having to do with PARKING in general, we follow all laws and regulations that the Illinois Commerce Commission provides. If a driver is "rude to you", it isn't a felony to be rude. And they usually are in terms of the disrespect they are given, insults, personal attacks, or even physical confrontations. If you instigate the driver for doing his job, as according to the ICC, you are at fault for the behavior mirrored to you. If you are indeed kind-hearted, nice, or even friendly towards us, you receive 150% of that respect back. From drivers, to dispatchers, to managers alike. If you don't give us a reason to be aggrivated, we will treat you fairly. And yes, in some cases, mistakes happen and we're 100% willing to work with you on issues as such, but only if the situation is in your favor. If you "feel" you're correct, that isn't at all enough according to the laws in Illinois. You don't go free after killing someone because you "FEEL" you were just. An investigation determines that. As with us, we must investigate the issues at hand and managers have no problem looking into yours.

    Drama that happened in the 60's and 70's with Lincoln Towing has nothing to do with us. We have new ownership, new managers, new drivers, new dispatchers...all different from those times. If you have a bad taste in your mouth because of old stories, then that's YOUR problem, not ours.

  19. Now let's say someone buys a property in 2006, yet a contract was signed with Lincoln Towing back in 2001, the contract doesn't cease to exist upon aquisition of that property. According to all Commerce rules and laws, the contracts with any 3rd party businesses and/or contractors transfer with that property's aquisition, including TOWING CONTRACTS. So say we tow the new property owner's car and they claim they never signed a contract with Lincoln Towing...while this may be true, the previous owner did, therefore the contract held with that property currently exists, therefore all towing rules still apply. And if that car doesn't have the proper parking license for that property, it is at the discretion of Lincoln Towing to issue a refund IF THEY SO CHOOSE TO. Legally, Lincoln Towing is protected by ICC rules and regulations.

    Also, in response to EYE IN THE SKY's comment about the construction workers...Jewel doesn't own the parking lot. That property belongs to the building behind it named "Pensacola Place" and its owners. That parking lot is leased to Jewel, so Jewel management has no say in the processes and/or actions happening in that lot. Prior notice of that construction company's placement of vehicles must be reported prior to security at Pensacola Place, so they can notify Lincoln Towing prior to such construction. If a construction company does not have permission to park in someone's lot, it means the company's vehicles are being abandoned on private property, and therefore subject to tow.

    And to comment on "Middle Aged" at the end..

    Your quote: "..and then I was going to..". Your intentions don't mean jack squat. What you INTEND to do after doesn't make your a customer of that lot. You abandoned your car there to go to YOUR son's property. Once you leave your vehicle behind, that's your own cause for the incident. That "THUG" was doing his job, managing the parking lot for that property. Perhaps if you took the time to realize common sense, you'd understand that parking on a private property to conduct business (financially or otherwise) elsewhere is against the law. It's not a racket when you're at fault for your own tow. And if you try to tell me "I don't know the laws here" you think the police accept that as an excuse from someone that comes from a state that ALLOWS bank robberies? lol. Common sense, that's all it takes.

  20. You all fail to realize the base process of things. I work for Lincoln Towing and allow me to state that we do everything...EVERYTHING...according to guidelines, rules, and/or policies policed by the Illinois Commerce Comission. If you think something was done unfairly or unjust, then your problem isn't with Lincoln Towing, it's with policies regulated by the state of Illinois.

    Drivers make money based on the number of cars they tow (such as, per vehicle). It works that way with most towing companies in the nation overall. The driver will take no time at all rigging your car to their tow truck and take it away. You may think "Oh, but I was only gone for 30 seconds!" only takes 10 seconds to hook your car up and leave with it. Although by law, it is true that they must put your car down if you catch the driver on the premises with your car, once that driver is OFF the property, he has no obligation to release your vehicle. Chicago Police are 90% unfamiliar with ICC laws, so they may act like they know what they're talking about, but it doesn't mean they're correct. Once the last 2 wheels of your vehicle are off the property, ICC rules dictate that the vehicle is now in custody of that towing company and you must pay the full regulated price. Interfering with the tow of your vehicle once it's off the property can and will result in legal action (Chicago Police can arrest you for trying to jump in the way of a truck).

    Let me state something about these "scout lots" you claim. In every part of Illinois, whether it be Springfield or Chicago, once you leave your vehicle on one property and walk off to another to do business elsewhere, you're breaking a law. You're basically (and legally) abandoning your car on someone's private property. Now let's say you even wanted to just go across the street to drop a letter in a mailbox. LEGALLY, you're conducting USPS business off property, which the owner has the LEGAL right to have you towed for leaving his property without intent of performing anymore business there. It's as if someone parked their car in YOUR garage...they can claim they were "going to pay you to park there", but you have ever legal right and responsibility to have that car removed from your garage at all costs. When your business's parking lot does plenty of business and has the capability of filling up with business for JUST THAT PROPERTY, and people park their car there only to do business elsewhere...that's a towable offence. Doesn't matter where your intentions lie (You intend to shop there after, etc.), you are legally responsible for leaving your car there.