5 On Your Side

Ongoing property dispute leaves customers towed in the middle

Posted March 31, 2014

— When JoAnn Biggs’ car disappeared, she unknowingly became one of the latest victims in an ongoing property dispute.

Biggs, while shopping at the Kmart on Capital Boulevard in March, parked in a space meant for customers.

“We were legally parked where we were supposed to be,” she said.

When she returned to her car, it was gone.

“After we had found out that it was towed, I said ‘Oh, of course they did because I heard the story a couple months earlier,’” she said.

As 5 On Your Side reported last fall, customers from the adjacent McDonald’s have been targeted for parking in Kmart spots not clearly marked as a tow-away zone. The towing is part of a bitter property dispute between the restaurant and the store’s property owners, Z.A. Sneeden’s Sons of Wilmington.

At least 196 cars were towed between January 2013 and February of this year, according to Raleigh police.

Biggs’ Nissan was not counted among those cars. Ace Towing, which towed her vehicle, never reported it to police.

“They said ‘well why did you park there,’” Biggs said. “And we said because it was crowded and there wasn’t any place else to park any closer. And they said most people don’t do that.”

Biggs was initially told she had to pick up her car. Then the tow truck driver said he would return it - for $100.

Biggs didn’t agree to that. An hour later, her car reappeared.

“Before we could even make it half way across the parking lot, they just dumped the car and took off," she said.

Rueben Massey, owner of Ace Towing, described the incident as an accident.

“But clearly, our driver didn’t handle it properly,” he said.

The tow wasn’t reported to police because the vehicle was returned, Massey said.

After 5 On Your Side contacted the McDonald’s again about this issue, the restaurant posted a sign at one of its entrances telling customers to park in spaces painted with golden arches. But the sign does not say they could otherwise be towed.

Gaffney Gunter, who owns the McDonald's, said he will add signs at the spots where the highest number of customers have been towed.

Ace Towing repaired four warning signs in the area that were knocked down and added an additional sign.

Biggs believes the hassle was unnecessary.

“There was no reason for them to take the car to begin with,” she said.


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  • Donald Holder Apr 1, 2014
    user avatar

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    They are all the same meaning what? That their neighbors have their customers cars towed?

  • Jump1 Apr 1, 2014

    This is one of many reasons I do not eat at any Mc D. They are all the same.

  • 68_dodge_polara Apr 1, 2014

    Sounds like Chapel Hill.

  • Ronnie Reams Apr 1, 2014
    user avatar

    Reminds me of back when I was working last century. We had a towing company on Capital Blvd in an old service station down near the beltline. They'd pull shenanigans like this. First I tried charging drivers with temporary taking of vehicles. Did not seem to help. Found out the fellow that ran the place mother was the owner. Started charging the corporation larceny of mv, a felony and had late Judge Greene* make sure she had to appear. Get her in and then reduce to joy riding and fined corporation. After several times of this she decided she did not want to be in the tow biz anymore and sold out. The lady in this case has a clear temporary taking case and should see her local Wake magistrate and get a warrant for ACE.
    *Back before he was elected to the Superior Court.

  • beaupeep Apr 1, 2014

    Well, when they rebuilt the McD's, if they had actually put the entrance on the side of the building where their parking spots are, I bet they'd have less trouble. If you use "their" spots, you have to walk all the way around the building, across the drive thru traffic.

    How is it McD's can build a bazillion restaurants and the design of each one gets progressively worse?

  • dwntwnboy2 Apr 1, 2014

    Sounds like a bunch of business owners acting like children and ACE towing gladly going along for the gravy train. Once they have your car- THEY get paid. They don't care if it was an "honest" mistake, all they want is YOUR money. Wouldn't go in either business at this point.

  • caniacsusie Apr 1, 2014

    Both parties should be ashamed. With the economy like it is, businesses like these need each other to keep afloat. You go to McD's & think, "Oh, while I'm here, I'll go over to K-Mart & pick up..." Or you go to K-Mart Y think, "Gee, I'm hungry. Think I'll go through the drive through at McDonald's." Beneficial relationship!