Brentwood Towing Faces Misdemeanor Charges After DMV Investigation
Posted May 22, 2002 12:20 p.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C., MAY 21, 1998 — A Raleigh towing company faces misdemeanor charges after an investigation by the Department of Motor Vehicles. 5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte has been following this story, and has the latest.
The investigation involves Brentwood Towing and Recovery. Last week, we told you about a surprise visit DMV officers made to the company. That visit came in the middle of our reports from people who complained Brentwood towed cars they shouldn't have. According to the DMV, that's not all they're doing wrong.
The DMV scoured Brentwood Towing's storage lots last week, checking the license plate and serial numbers of 220 cars. The DMV wants to know if Brentwood is properly notifying the agency about every car towed.
DMV inspector G.C. Lockamy says the investigation shows they're not.
"Out of the 220, 4 had been reported stolen. The owners of the vehicles has not been notified and Brentwood failed to notify the division within the required 10 days."
The charges are misdemeanors, but significant.
While it's not unusual for towing companies to tow abandoned or stolen vehicles, Lockamy says, if the DMV is not notified about towed cars, it can trigger a domino effect of problems beginning with vehicle owners.
"The owner if he's not aware of it, he would report it stolen and it would start a lot of investigations...through your local police, other state agencies, a plus your insurance company."
The insurance company might then pay a needless claim. Or, by the time the vehicle owner locates his car, he could owe so much in storage fees that he can't afford to get it back.
Brentwood owner Rick Walker says the 4 cars were towed legitimately. He blames internal problems for paperwork errors.
The N.C. Attorney General's Office is also investigating complaints that Brentwood does "predatory towing" and tows from areas that aren't properly marked.
Brentwood has responded. Several signs we received complaints about have been changed. A "customer's only" sign posted at a lot among three nearby businesses along Hillsborough Street, now makes it clear which customers can park there.
And the branches covering a towing zone sign at Ivy Commons, a condominium complex near N.C. State, have now been trimmed back.
Ivy Commons also added more signs warning illegal parkers will be towed. The outcome of the Attorney General's investigation is still pending, we'll let you know what happens with that.
Also, since our story first aired, we've received more complaints about Brentwood. We're checking into those as well.