SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – City officials in Sunrise have taken a step to make sure that a mass towing of cars during Black Friday shopping never happens again.
Though no one specifically requested it, tow-trucks removed hundreds of vehicles from parking lots of businesses near the Sawgrass Mills Mall on Black Friday, reports the Sun Sentinel.
The Sunrise Police Department is also trying to find out whether any laws were broken when towing companies removed the cars.
The Sentinel reports Sunrise commissioners tentatively approved a strict set of guidelines for towing companies on Tuesday. A final vote is expected on Dec. 28th.
Some shoppers told the newspaper they parked in an Applebee’s parking lot because the restaurant was closed. A few hours later, the shoppers who parked there were stranded because all of their cars had been towed away.
To make matters worse, they claimed they were forced to pay inflated cab fare to the towing company which forced them to pay cash to retrieve their vehicles.
Shoppers said they paid between $100 and $124 in cash to get them back.
An attorney for All County Towing told the newspaper “that’s the risk you take” if you park at a closed business. All County Towing removed 162 vehicles from parking lots near Sawgrass Mill Mall on Nov. 25th. The attorney said other companies were also towing cars that night.
Meanwhile, Applebee’s is offering full refunds of the towing charges to show they never condoned the operation.
Under the new rules, tow companies: must accept personal checks and provide change if the car owner pays cash; can’t remove a car if the owner returns before the vehicle is connected to the tow truck; and must notify the police department within 30 minutes of towing a car.
In addition, the tow company and business need a written agreement that states the name and address of the property owner requesting the tow, the time of day and days of the week the tow is authorized, and the duration of the agreement.
The agreement must list the location where the vehicle will be stored. And the site can’t be more than 10 miles from where the tow originates. People who think their cars were illegally towed on Black Friday should call the Sunrise Police Department at 954-746-3600.