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.

Comments (9)
  1. Mrs. Robinson says:

    162 cars x$125=$20,000 The punishment should fit the crime. The city should fine the tow operator $50,000

    Why isnt the tow operator being arrested for car theft? If I dragged a car away and held it for randsom I would be in jail.

  2. Domingo says:

    UNDER THE NEW LAW THAT THE CITY WANTS TO TAKE STEPS TO PUT IN FOR THE TOWING COMPANNY THE FORM THAT THE TOW TRUCK WILL HAve to have sing by the owner of the store for the towing companny to remove the car from the parking lot the driver will have copyes made already sing from the owner of the buisness then he will tow the car away I use to work for a towing companny and thats what the drivers did got the form sing ahead of time and all they have to do is fill out the date and time and tow the car away and in most companny they will take credit cards to egt the car out you will see that the companys will still tow away cars and the city will not do anything more about it its a seal deal and the law will back the companny and the towing truck driver and its a chame that all these towing companny can get away with it sometimes the driver will park and look for drivers that will park there and as soon as they leave they will hook the car it happens alot in miami beach and in other parts of the miami dade cause i see it happen when i work for the towing companny.

  3. cue45 says:

    south beach needs to review the towing companies policies also thiers are more of a scam than sunrise are

  4. Michael says:

    Yeah! if the can steal a car and hold it for ransom, the why can’t we? I think towing companies should not be allowed to ask for money. they should just be city employees moving cars paid by our tax dollars, then a fine should be paid by the driver to help keep the city nice. I think this way the city gets an income, and the drivers can be protected against corrupt companies just looking for a buck by stealing owners cars.

  5. Phil Landers says:

    1 question: What did the sign posted in the lot say? It’s not the tow company’s fault if a bunch of illiterate and blind people park at Applebees after hours. Applebee’s is full of …. because they contracted the tow company to patrol that lot. It’s a liability issue. If all of those cars got broken into the illiterate and blind would probably hold Applebee’s liable for that also. And NO I don’t work for the tow company but I know how to look for a no parking sign and read what it says. Nobody want’s to be culpable for their own actions anymore. Pathetic . . . .

    1. ADMIN says:

      Applebees said there was no sign, and nobody had permission to tow. They are actually actually refunding charges for people who were towed. You’re a bit off base, Phil. Maybe if you had a fact or two before you rant…

      1. Paul says:

        not that i agree with all of what happened, if you watch the original video from channel 7, i believe carmel cafero, it was stated that tow signs were in place. what they also said was that the towing company HAD permission from the manager and it was not authorized on the corporate level. that is an issue that applebees has to take up their manager

    2. Fallowt says:

      “Sunrise city commissioners and the mayor set out to better protect car owners and put a stop to what they call predatory towing. All County Towing denied it practices such methods.” Yeah, because enough of your company’s tow trucks just happened to be driving by to haul away 300 cars, right? There had better be one muther-phucker of an investigation over this.

  6. CAM says:

    Really? I guess you have not had your car towed. I was at Dainia Beach and watched the tow company take cars out of an area that was parking for the resturant on the pier. I asked the ex-prision inmate…I mean driver how he knew that the people were not in the resturant? He said he checked…right and I said how could you check the resturant hasn’t been open for months and he told me to go F&%$ myself…that it wasn’t my businesss. maybe not, but the ten cars that he did tow were people that were there volenteering for the Boy’s and Girls club plywood regatta. Nice….So Phil side with the criminals your probably knew them from jail.