Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Urgent Portland Predatory Towing Alert! Sergeant's Towing running tow scam on public property!
Tow scam targets wheelchair users, persons with legal disability placards!
McCall’s Waterfront Park is scene of tow heists!
By Sean Cruz
For the past year or more, Sergeant’s Towing has been running a towing scam in plain sight in front of the former McCall’s Restaurant at Waterfront Park.
The notorious patrol towing company has been taking vehicles from the publicly-owned parking lot with no contract or authority from the City of Portland to do so.
The City of Portland has just determined that a Portland man, whose wheelchair-enabled van was towed from the McCalls lot by a Sergeant’s tow thug, will get his money back.
Sergeant’s driver took the vehicle knowing he was leaving someone in a wheelchair without his vehicle!
That’s what is so egregious about this particular towing scam—it targets people in wheelchairs (but not just in wheelchairs!)!
The McCall’s lot contains several spaces reserved for vehicles marked with disabled placards, and a small forest of Sergeant’s signs that appear to be posted deliberately to confuse the public.
Some of the Sergeant’s signs posted throughout the lot state that a disability placard AND a McCall’s Restaurant permit must both be visible on the vehicle.
But McCall’s Restaurant has been closed for more than a year! There ARE no McCall’s Restaurant permits!
The predatory patrol towing victim parked in the lot on a Sunday afternoon intending to take a brisk wheel around the park. He parked his van in a space where the sign states that both the disability placard AND McCall’s permit must be displayed.
But McCall’s was an empty building! It was a Sunday! He’s been in a wheelchair for more than 15 years! The van has a wheelchair lift!
The reason that none of these facts were a deterrent was because he was precisely the sort of “customer” the scam is designed to snare!
Sergeant’s has no contract or authority to post its signs or tow vehicles from that parking lot.
That is a measure of the arrogance one finds rampant among patrol towers.
Anyone whose vehicle was towed from McCall’s in the past year should contact the City about getting your money back.
One wonders where else Sergeant’s is pulling these scams.
Many thanks to Tim Barrett for bulldogging this case to a successful conclusion.
Oregonians (and visitors to the state) owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Barrett for providing Senator Gordly’s office with his research on patrol towing in other states prior to the 2007 Legislative Session.
That information, which included the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling upholding California’s ban on patrol towing, gave us the legal foundation for Senate Bill 431 and Senate Bill 116. Both bills passed on unanimous votes.
The Circuit’s Court’s language is now embodied in Oregon Statute as Section 1 of Senate Bill 116 (2007).
As you can see, there remains some legislative work yet to be done regarding predatory patrol towing.
The accompanying photos of the McCall’s parking lot were taken by Sean Cruz the day after the wheelchair-enabled van was towed.