Reporting Maggie Newland
New Year's Eve South Florida Style
SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The City of Sunrise is getting tough on towing companies after hundreds of cars were towed from parking lots near Sawgrass Mills overnight on Black Friday.
Surveillance video shows one tow truck after another towing cars from the Applebee’s parking lot across from Sawgrass mills.
Brianna Rhue says she got the unpleasant surprise while shopping with a friend.
“We walked in, did a little bit of shopping, walked out to an empty parking lot with people sitting on the curb with their shopping bags, and then there were a line of taxis to take you to where they already knew they towed your cars,” she explained.
Many towing companies only accepted cash and would not provide change
Steve Rossi, a lawyer for All County Towing defended the company’s actions.
“Our client towed cars that were illegally parked they didn’t violate any law,” said Rossi.
But police are investigating whether the towing was legal. Police say Applebee’s never authorized the tow company to remove cars from its lot, even though it did have no parking signs.
Police also want to know why so many taxis were waiting to take people to tow lots and how much the taxis charged.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this never happens again,” Sunrise mayor Mike Ryan vowed.
Wednesday night, city commissioners passed an ordinance tightening restrictions on tow companies, requiring them to accept payments other than cash and provide change among other provisions.
Rossi admitted his clients were not thrilled with the new rules, but promised, “we’re going to comply with whatever the ordinance indicates.”
Applebee’s is reimbursing people for towing fees and cab fares if they can prove they were towed from the parking lot overnight Black Friday.
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.