UPDATE: City Council backs court ruling on towing cost cap

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Submitted: Wed, 08/06/2014 - 3:52am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council removed the cap on towing fees related to private property Tuesday night.

The decision came after the State Supreme Court ruled that cities cannot regulate those charges when a towing company picks up your car from private property, like an apartment complex.

A city spokeswoman said council members originally put the ordinance in place because people claimed wrecker companies charged way too much. Now, some towing companies worry that will happen again.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Mark Gabriel, who owns Hooked Up, a Wilmington towing company. He added that taking the price cap off of private property towing is a big mistake.

“I don’t see anything good coming out of it,” Gabriel said.

He worries some towing companies will drastically increase prices and take advantage of the public. Several people we talked with agree.

“That would definitely hurt my pocket,” one driver said.

Wilmington had a cap of $100 if your car is towed from private property, but the state Supreme Court ruled cities do not have the power to regulate that price.

Some folks hope the companies will stick to an “unofficial” cap.

“Towing companies should have some type of integrity,” a driver said.

Another said, “I think they’ll still have a cap based on competition.”

But, Gabriel said folks should be prepared to pay up.

“The prices will only increase,” he said.

Gabriel’s business mostly tows cars that are wrecked or broken down, but he said for businesses that do a lot of private property towing, removing the cap will show their true colors.

“There are legit companies out there that do that type of work, and I’m sure you won’t see an increase in their rates,” Gabriel said. “Then there’s gonna be guys out there charging way too much.”

Gabriel said he thinks about a third of companies will up their price.


  • guesty says:

    Charging storage is a standard business practice for all wrecker companies. If your car is towed because it was in a wreck, each day it sits in the tow yard before it is either moved to a body shop or totaled, a storage bill is incurred.

  • jj says:

    I understand that, but if you are in a wreck you car in normally towed to a body shop and if it isn’t you know where your car is. With these snatch a tow it might take a couple of days to find your car. They should not be allow to charge storage until they can prove they have contacted you and you know where you car is.

  • guesty says:

    How are tow companies going to contact car owners? They have to contact the police and provide info about the vehicle such as tag number, make & model, location towed from and the VIN within 30 minutes of towing it. If you find your car missing, check for the mandatory posted signs say what company tows from there. If you don’t see them, the first call should be to the police and you will quickly find out if it has been towed, who has it.

  • Rusty says:

    Abandoned? No it was on a lot in the place I live that was used for excess cars as the driveways are limited to 2 vehicles. Yes my fault for letting the tag lapse for a couple weeks (if it was even that long) and not checking for it’s presence in that lot every few days but it should have been safe there and certainly SOME kind of notification from the tow company long before they attempted to file for the title with DMV.

    $50 is for a standard call not wrecks, parking violations and such that fall into a higher rate. Make a few calls saying your toyota broke down and how much to tow it to (insert a local shop here); shouldn’t be hard to find one in that range. I’m not involved with towing but I do have 30 years in the automotive industry so I may have a bit of knowledge. (I’d hope :) )

  • Rusty says:

    The one time I was in a wreck (1984 in Cary NC) the tow company contacted me soon after to ask what I wanted to do with the car, keep it in storage there for the insurance company or? If it was possible then it surely is now. I will not paint all tow companies with the tar brush but they know who they are.

    I’ve had intent to tow stickers slapped on my cars before (in my own driveway!) when the tag had a month sticker of the preceding month but it doesn’t expire until the 15th of the following month and it was well before the 12th of that month. Many people reading this may also not realize that after 30 days the tow company can file for title of your car.. also a lucrative business if they manage to on an otherwise undamaged car and perhaps you were out of town or incapacitated?

  • guesty says:

    You were in a wreck, your information was available to the tow company by the police. When a car is towed away, the tow company has no way of “running the tag” to find the owner. That is why they notify the police so if the owner calls to report their car stolen, they can quickly check to see if it was towed.

  • jj says:

    What towing company do you work for?

    These guys are ripping people off. They tow you and then charge you by the day.

  • NotMyUsualName says:

    I’ve avoided mentioning names in other posts but YEP hit the nail on the head there Danimal. They got me several times for way more $ than I care to admit to; They seem to prey on the people that can least afford it as well; guess they hope to keep the car, get the title and sell it at auction. Failing that they still get a hefty sum if the owner can scrape up the cash.

  • Danimal says:

    Now open for business: Rosaks Predatory Towing. These clowns are going to have a field day snatching cars and charging exorbitant fees to release vehicles. Sleazy as they come.

  • guesty says:

    Have you now figured out where to park?

  • Guest2020 says:

    “That would definitely hurt my pocket,” one driver said.

    What would help your pocket is to refrain from parking on private property. Stay in designated parking spaces and you will have nothing to worry about.

  • Rusty says:

    Back to predatory towing I see. I can get my car towed to a shop for 50 bucks or less; why would this be MORE when they also charge storage fees on top of the tow? The last time I was a victim of this scam one of my cars was parked in an overflow lot since we weren’t using it at the time and when the plate expired it got towed and I had no idea until a letter from the DMV saying the company wanted the title! Tow plus 30 days storage was over $1000.. I talked them down to 1K and put that car in a storage lot for $60/Month after I got it back.

    Just one more reason I’ll take a taxi if I feel the desire for a night out in town. (although that starts a whole ‘nother set of rants.)

  • Tim says:

    You basically abandoned it on some else’s property, normally you contact 911 if your car is missing and they will either take a report for a stolen car, or send you to the correct towing service. That isn’t a scam that’s you not thinking. $50 or less if pretty low you must have some friends that tow I’m guessing… Or your just another idiot on here that wants to talk and try to sound like you know it all

  • DayGuest says:

    As if another reason is needed, here is another one to stay away from Wilmington and downtown.

  • Guest123 says:

    Am I the only one bothered by the fact we give private companies the right to seize your property and levy fines without any oversight or due process?

    I still remember in college when Earl’s towed my vehicle from my apartment complex eventhough I had the parking label in my back window and had the right to use the one of the 2 spaces assigned to my unit.

    When I tried to retrieve my vehicle, I was told the sticker wasn’t visible to the driver. I soon realized I had no recourse short of getting an attoney and being a broke college student that wasn’t going to happen.

    So I had to pay them the $85 to get my car back so I could work, but they didn’t have change so I had to leave a $15 “tip”

    Looks like the “good ole days” are back….

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