Controversial law aimed at stopping tow trucks from stealing cars

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Updated Dec 21, 2016

City council members in Philadelphia passed new legislation in the hopes of stopping tow truck drivers from stealing vehicles.

However, tow truck drivers say the new law, which requires that a vehicle must be ticketed before it can be towed, will hurt companies that have had nothing to do with the thefts.

Tow truck drivers showed up in mass at City Hall last Thursday and even shut down one lane of traffic with their trucks. Still, city council members voted 15 to 1 to create the new law, according to

The law, which requires that a vehicle be issued a parking ticket prior to being towed, follows an Action News investigation which revealed that some tow truck drivers were putting up ‘No Parking’ signs along roads where drivers had already parked. After putting the signs up, tow truck drivers would then take the vehicles that were actually parked legally. (A video below allegedly shows a tow truck baiting and then preparing to tow a Mercedes sedan.)

“It’s hard to legislate for bad actors and we know that and we’re committed to working with the industry and, as a city, doing our part to come up with a better system. But in the interim, we’ve got to stop what we’ve blatantly seen, which is some folks stealing cars,” Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez said at the meeting.

The only council member to vote against the measure said that the new law would wrongfully punish towing companies that have had nothing to do with the vehicle thefts.

“I understand her good intentions, but the devil’s in the details, and these independent contractors who are tax paying, law abiding, non-predatory, are in business. As we try to fix something, they’re going to put them out of business,” Councilman Curtis Jones announced.

Tow truck drivers at the meeting agreed with Jones and said that other businesses, besides towing companies, will be effected.

“How could those who do parking lot and driveway enforcement be predatory, when it’s the property owner, or the management company, who is calling us to tow these vehicles,” said Lew Blum, owner of Lew Blum Towing. “They have us mixed-up with another part of the industry.”