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HONK deploys FirstOnScene, a service providing time-sensitive accident information to insurance companies.
Careful maneuvering and technical know-how uprights camper with relative ease.
Several examples of what can happen when you DON’T get the keys!
Red and black toned wrap adds a darker dimension to this patriotic themed rotator.
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in Towing September 22 - September 28, 2021

Tow Procession in Oregon Honors Slain Tower

Dozens of tow truck drivers gathered in Hillsboro, Or., on the morning of 7/17 for the Enough is Enough tow truck procession to remember fallen tow truck driver Patrick Sanford, who died a month ago when he was shot and killed while on a towing job at the Park Creek Village Apartments.  

“It was a senseless way to go. That gentleman was just doing his job.” said Jean Underwood of Beaverton Towing. 

Sanford was moving vehicles from the apartment complex parking lot for a maintenance project lot when he was confronted by a resident and shot and killed.  

42-year-old Mathew McAdoo has been charged with second degree murder. 

“I think today is amazing. It’s a wonderful statement about Patrick and the horrible thing that happed to Patrick,” said Sanford’s sister Erin Fitzgerald as the procession started.  

Their hope is that people they encounter on the job show more patience and kindness, even when the reason for the tow is disputed. 

https://www.kgw.com/ 



Click here to read more

Tow Organizations Vigilant Against Amendment 

As the proposed 3.5 trillion-dollar Infrastructure Bill (HR3684) winds its way through Congress, the Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA), Emergency Road Service Coalition of America (ERSCA), and the Association of Professional Tow Operators-Ohio (APTO) remain vigilant against an amendment (VanHollen Amendment), that if added to the bill, would give states the power to regulate consensual towing. 

TRAA maintains that their lobbying efforts have helped ensure the exclusion of this amendment from the infrastructure bill that was passed by the Senate on August 10. TRAA is confident that this amendment will not be included in the final bill when the House votes on it, but is standing on watch nonetheless, as the House is drafting another bill, referred to as the 3.5 trillion Reconciliation Package, that could potentially alter that reality. TRAA, which has been working with relevant staff on house committees, with a lobbyist hired from their organization, assures this is “not something the house considers as part of the second infrastructure package.” 

ERSCA as well is aware of the situation unfolding before Congress, as they were approached by APTO, who voiced their concerns and want to also take political action by hiring a lobbyist. Although both organizations are relieved that the amendment was excluded in the Senate’s bill, they inform “that the immediate threat has not been eliminated yet, as another congressmember could request the same amendment be added to the bill.” In light of this, ERSCA is compelled to assist APTO to ensure any inclusion whatsoever and is requesting financial support through ERCSA.org to help offset costs of a lobbyist.  



Tow Industry Lobbyists working hard to ensure exclusion of an amendment that could regulate towing.

Get the Keys

Keys 2 a8f79
By Randall C. Resch

Today’s modern vehicles have become increasingly more difficult to load and tow. Because all-wheel and front-wheel drive systems are part of the mechanical process of load and go, getting the keys is a necessary safety requirement upon which every tow operator should insist.

When motorists have control of the vehicle’s keys … dangerous things happen. There’s a simple industry fact that says, “If a tower doesn’t have control of the vehicle’s keys, they don’t have control of the vehicle.”

True Safety Factor

Example One: A California tower serviced an out-of-gas Dodge van; one of those old 318 Cummings high-compression motors. As he poured a sip of gas into the carburetor, the owner prematurely started the van. The carburetor belched fire spitting flame and fuel on the tower’s neck, face and uniform. His burns were critical.

Example Two: A tower responded to a service call where a starter-motor was stuck. He jacked the car up and shimmied underneath to tap the starter with a hammer. While lying under the vehicle, its driver cycled the key and the vehicle jolted forward causing it to fall partially off-the-jack onto the tower. A passerby luckily made quick work jacking the car off him saving his life.

Example Three: A customer waited three-hours for a wrecker to winch his stuck Jeep from a cement ditch. Upset, the motorist asked the tower if he should put the Jeep in neutral. Although the tower responded “No” while walking away, the customer didn’t hear the towers response. In an instant, the customer reached through the open door and shifted to neutral. The vehicle rolled backwards and snagged the tower’s shirt, dragging him backwards. He was critically injured.

Each of these scenarios all could have been prevented by obtaining the keys first before work started.

A Different Consideration

An entitled, disgruntled and sue-happy businessman, owner of a second generation Hummer, decided the cops and tow operator (me) weren’t going to impound his car that racked $1,000 in parking fines.

The Hummer was parked between two cars facing downhill and I was in a carrier. On my arrival, the owner and cop had expended enough verbal energy to create a small gathering. I asked for his keys explaining it would be easier on his Hummer if I simply drove it to the carrier. In full rage, he said, “^*&(%k you!” Challenge extended.

He locked and alarmed the car stuffing keys into his eel-skin jacket. The officer had no-luck explaining that keys would make it easier to get the vehicle out. The owner told the cop, “^*&(%k you!” Challenge accepted.

The officer invited the owner to have a seat curbside as I worked pivot-magic, pivoting his Hummer sideways and out of its parking space on dry pavement. He nearly soiled himself having heard the sound of "errt, errt, errt, denoting dry, screeching tires atop the pavement … you know the sound. I left a readily available gallon of soapy water in the side-box on-purpose. He bounced-up ready to hand me the keys. My response was quick, “Sorry, too late!”

Some Don’t Play

There are plenty of motorists who feel they shouldn’t or don’t have to surrender keys. Perhaps it’s a trust thing? It’s important towers take time to provide complete safety instructions to owners regarding the type of service, winch-out or recovery task at hand.

I won’t ask a non-experienced vehicle owner to assist. Getting one’s keys is paramount to attain that higher level of safety. Because you can’t trust a vehicle owner’s actions, getting the vehicle’s keys will increase your on-scene safety.

Fast forward to Mr. Hummer’s day in-court when he sued the city and me; he lost miserably and got a costly lesson from the judge he won’t likely forget. I remember the plaintiff’s grin drooped when the judge called him “Guilty, irresponsible and childlike.” Ya’ know … some days it’s just great to be alive.

American Towman ShowPlace - Las Vegas 2021 Was A Hit!
By Don Lomax
Click to enlarge


I work the non-traffic side of the wrecker/carrier:
seldom
maybe 30% of the breakdowns
half of the time
most of the time
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Managing Editor: Steve Calitri
ATTV Editor & Anchor: Emily Oz
Advertising Sales (800-732-3869):
Dennie Ortiz x213, Ellen Rosengart x203, Peggy Calabrese x202
Content Management: Henri Calitri
Site Progr., Graphics & Video: Ryan Oser
Wrecks + Recovery Editor: Jim "Buck" Sorrenti
Operations Editor: Randall C. Resch
Tow Business Editor: Brian J. Riker
Tow Illustrated Editor: George L. Nitti
September 22 - September 28, 2021
Towers came out in procession to honor Gary "Bubbles" Vaughn.

One Final Ride for Gary "Bubbles" Vaughn

Tower Gary “Bubbles” Vaughn was fondly remembered in the community of Lynchburg, Va., as more than 40 tow trucks gave him honor with a procession on Saturday, Sept 18.

68-year-old Vaughn, who passed away on Sept. 4 from Covid-19, was a member of the towing community for over 40 years. He became the owner of “Bubble’s 23 1/2 hour Wrecker Service” and was its only driver.

Mark Hudson with Mitchell's Towing said Bubble's legacy will live forever. "He was just well-known, liked by everyone. Never had a bad review, never disliked by anybody. Served this community for 40 years; We just think he deserves some respect for that," said Hudson.

He said Bubble's will be remembered as a friend to everybody and will be missed dearly.

Vaughan’s casket was loaded onto the back of his tow truck to give him his last ride to his funeral service.

https://www.wfxrtv.com/

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September 22 - September 28, 2021

Roadside Assistance Co. Employs New Technology

HONK, a digital assistance platform and vehicle transport company, will deploy its accident scene information services solution, FirstOnScene. With FirstOnScene, insurance carriers can receive photos, video and information detailing vehicle damage while the vehicle is still on scene. HONK claims that as a result, carriers can reduce the claim cycle time by three to five days, cutting the time required to settle roughly in half. 

Tow operators from the HONK network capture photos and video via HONK’s platform, which optimizes them for analysis by third-party AI platforms. Images and video are also available to claims adjusters for viewing via their preferred claims management software. Insurance carriers receive the data points required to settle a claim while the customer’s vehicle is still at the scene of an accident. Customers receive a settlement or their repaired vehicles back faster, and insurers save up to $800 per claim by reducing costly delays such as vehicle storage, impound fees, secondary tows and rental car days. 

“HONK’s nationwide network of tow providers and our technology platform create a powerful combination that’s ideally suited to accelerate the accident scene claims process,” said Rochelle Thielen, Chief Revenue Officer at HONK.

“Final Ride” Processional for Garry McGee 

Numerous wrecker services, including his employer Apollo Wrecker Service, came out in a heartfelt “Final Ride” processional for tower Garry McGee, who was struck and killed on August 30 by an impaired driver. 

McGee, also an Army veteran, had been hooking up a vehicle to his truck on LBJ Freeway when he was thrown over the overpass and onto a freeway.  

He leaves behind a wife and two daughters. 

https://foxsanantonio.com/

Mass. Tower Killed in Crash 

A tow truck driver was killed in a crash on Route 495 in Milford, Mass., when his Freightliner “veered out of its lane,” smashing into the guardrail and then riding up and over it.  

The cab of the truck was left hanging halfway off the bridge that goes over Route 16 for several hours overnight. 

The driver, identified only as a 24-year-old man, was rushed to Milford Hospital where he died. A passenger in the truck, a 20-year-old woman, was also taken there and was treated for minor injuries. 

“The investigation into the facts and circumstances of the crash, including whether speed or inclement weather conditions were contributing factors, is ongoing,” State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said in a statement Friday, 9/10.  

https://boston.cbslocal.com/ 

 

TRAA Claims Legislative Victories for Tow Industry 

As part of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that is anticipated to be enacted, TRAA reports that several pieces of legislation have either been thwarted or incorporated into the Act as a result of their vigilance through lobbying efforts. 

One amendment that will not be incorporated into the Act was the regulation of non-consent towing rates proposed by two senators, which TRAA was against, citing its negative impact on the industry. With TRAA input to the Senate Commerce Committee, the proposed amendment was struck down.  

TRAA claims that their lobbying arm was also instrumental in advocating against an amendment proposing a federal increase to insurance liability coverage from $750,000 to $2M. TRAA argued that such insurance increases would be a burden on the towing industry. That amendment too was struck down. 

In addition, TRAA reports that they stood behind an amendment supporting an apprenticeship pilot program for under-21 CDL Drivers, as part of the DRIVE Safe Act. This legislative victory will allow up to 3,000 CDL holders aged 18 – 20 to drive long-haul in interstate commerce. TRAA argues it’s a great way to attract more qualified individuals looking for career opportunities. 

Finally, TRAA stood behind an Act protecting roadside first responders and Move Over law enforcement ordering a federal study of state Move Over Laws to determine which are most effective and how the federal government can partner with states for better enforcement. This too has passed.  

Horse Rescued with Rotator 

Hank, a 2500-pound horse at Garret Mountain Equestrian Center in Woodland, N.J., was trapped when the planks he was walking on collapsed Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. He was rescued by several firefighters with the rotator of Camp Towing of Wayne, N.J. 

The incident was reported shortly before 7 p.m. According to Mayor Keith Kazmark, "The plank was weakened not just by the storm but the number of storms we had recently.” Hank was out on a trail ride and was the last of five horses crossing the bridge when the plank gave way. Rescue crews were called, and Woodland Park firefighters were quickly on the scene.  

The first responders called the borough's towing company. Tower Don Campanello Jr. arrived on the scene just after 7 p.m. Kevin Brown of Camp's Towing said Campanello was returning from a job when the call came in.  "You have to be careful. You can break the horse's ribs," Brown said.  

Hank was given a sedative by a vet who was also on scene. "With the sedative they had about a 25-minute window to work with," Kazmark said. Camp's was able to use its large rotator truck to lift Hank. The entire operation was done in less than an hour. 

Even so, Hank wasn't necessarily out of the woods. Horses don't always recover easily from sedation, the mayor said he was told. "It was touch and go," Kazmark said. "He fell over once." But Hank did recover and was soon standing. By 9:45 p.m. Friday he was back in his stable and eating. 

https://www.northjersey.com/

Company’s Tow License Suspended Amid Violations 

A resort commission in Ocean City, Md., upheld a suspension initiated by its Chief of Police to suspend the tow license of 1st Street Towing due to numerous violations. 

Police Chief Ross Buzzuro’s, who issued the suspension August 4, said, “There have a number of violations that we’ve uncovered that resulted in a combination of 49 criminal and civil violations.” 

Their license was suspended for the rest of the year and came amidst an ongoing investigation arising from a complaint against the company. Violations included incomplete tow slips and affidavits, illegible signatures, unauthorized tow drivers and missing contracts between the tow company and property representatives.  

Cpl. Ryan Flanagan requested the commission uphold the police chief’s suspension. He noted he’s had a working relationship with the company for years and was involved in a criminal investigation against 1st Street Towing in 2019. 

“After several times of me educating, trying to get compliance with these laws at every turn, they let us down,” he said. 

Abu-Zaid, the lawyer for First Street, requested the commission modify or reverse the chief’s suspension. 

“He’s looking at a suspension that’s essentially half of a full year of a license,” he said. “So there’s substantial financial hardship associated with that. Not to mention the drivers, who could potentially be out of work.” 

Abu-Zaid also argued against some of the alleged violations involving incomplete affidavits. “The deficiencies, nine out of 10 times, are rectified by the tow slip that is right on top of it,” he said. 

Abu-Zaid added the only documentation required for a tow in the town’s ordinance was a tow slip. “There’s no requirement in the code that there should be an affidavit,” he said. “In fact, the word affidavit doesn’t appear anywhere in the code. I would suggest in the event the city wants to use a form affidavit, mandate a form affidavit and complain about deficiencies in the affidavit, somewhere in the code should say there should be an affidavit.” 

Tow owner Maath Salem urged the commission to reconsider his suspension. He said his company followed the law. “We love this town and have been in this town for over 30 years,” he said. “We do respect the law.” 

https://mdcoastdispatch.com/

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September 22 - September 28, 2021

Camper Recovery

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by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On July 27, 2021, Big Wheel Towing & Recovery received a call from the Mass. State Police to respond immediately to a large rolled-over camper on Rte. 195E in the vicinity of exit #17 in Westport, Mass.

Big Wheel owner Eric Fouquette informed, “They stated that the camper trailer in question was being towed behind an SUV when the unit began to sway uncontrollably as it was being towed down the highway. As a result, the SUV lost control, impacted the steel guardrail system, and rolled over several times before coming to rest in the center median strip. During the overturning process, the large camper trailer became detached from the SUV and flipped over in the middle of the highway before sliding and coming to rest blocking all three travel lanes on the eastbound side. They are very lucky nobody got killed. The SUV flipped a few times, not the camper.”

Eric, along with operators Nathaniel Wing and Kevin Whittle responded with their 2017 Peterbilt 589 with a Century 1150R 50-ton rotator, a Landoll tractor-trailer unit and their Rapid Response HAZMAT / Isuzu Traffic Control Unit to assist with the cleanup operations and roadway closure. Big Wheel big boss Bob Fouquette was on scene as well.

Eric explained. “Once our equipment and personnel were able to navigate through the gridlock traffic and access the scene, our traffic control unit was positioned at the rear of the crash scene and the LED arrowboard/advanced warning indicator was illuminated and raised in order to warn oncoming motorists of the incident ahead.”

Once they established a perimeter around the overturned camper trailer, they positioned and setup the Century 1150R rotator in front of the camper to begin the recovery. A heavy-duty recovery strap was installed around the camper trailer and ran back through the underside of the unit while an additional heavy-duty recovery strap was installed separately onto the underside of the camper trailer which would be used as a catch line. Once all of the necessary rigging was properly installed onto the overturned camper trailer, the operator rotated and extended the rotator's boom out towards the camper until it was directly overhead. Both of the upper winch lines were lowered down and attached to the rigging.

Eric explained, “The operator slowly began to apply upward tension onto one of the recovery straps, which began to upright the entire camper trailer. Once the camper trailer reached its natural tipping point, the operator utilized the other winch line to catch the weight of the camper trailer and slowly release the tension on that line which allowed for a gradual descent back down onto the pavement.”

With the camper trailer now upright, the next task was to load it onto the Landoll trailer. During the crash, the axles had twisted and the tongue had sustained damage, which prevented the camper trailer from being towed. The Landoll trailer was backed alongside the rotator and in front of the camper trailer. The Landoll trailer was then lowered down to the ground and the 1150R rotated the front of the camper trailer until it was facing completely forward. The rotator then elevated the front of the camper trailer so that it was on top of the Landoll trailer.

The winch located at the front of the Landoll was then attached to the front of the trailer and the Landoll and rotator worked in tandem to get the entire camper trailer up onto the Landoll. As the Landoll was winching the camper trailer up onto its deck, the rotator was simultaneously assisting with lifting the front of the camper trailer as well as rotating it up the remainder of the way. Once the camper trailer was completely onto the Landoll, it was secured for transport.

All of the rigging used was un-installed and placed back within the Century rotator. The large amount of debris which littered the roadway that had spilled from inside the camper was collected and placed into a DOT Approved HAZMAT drum. The entire roadway was blown off to ensure that no debris was left behind. At that time, the entire affected area was returned to its pre-accident condition and the roadway was re-opened to its full traffic capacity.

“The camper trailer was then transported back to our Freetown storage facility. Once there, our heavy-duty front end loader was used to assist with offloading the camper trailer from our Landoll. After the camper trailer was offloaded, our loader was used to place it into storage,” stated Eric. “Just a little recovery at the end of the day with Nathaniel Wing and Kevin Whittle. Even had my dad out there helping. Great jobs guys. Thank you for the help as always.”

Big Wheel Towing & Recovery, located in East Freetown, Mass., is one of the largest and most respected towing and recovery companies in New England. Bob Fouquette started his family business in 1980 and now has three generations actively working including his sons Eric and David. Their extensive fleet of over 30 pieces of equipment and numerous other units, painted in their signature yellow, are familiar sites on the highways of the Northeast.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Double Trouble

double1 500fc
by Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

On Friday, June 18, 2021 Pepe’s Towing Service was called by the California Highway Patrol to respond to a truck hanging over the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles, Calif.

Joshua “Josh” Acosta went out in Hulk, a 2020 Peterbilt 389 with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator. Operator David Celis was in Big Flipper, a 2019 Peterbilt 389 with a Century 1075 75-ton rotator, which is the only 75-ton in the city of Los Angeles. Operator Jose Jabanero responded with a 3-axle Landoll on a 2014 Peterbilt 389 tractor.

The team arrived on scene at approximately 1:00 a.m, finding a tractor pulling a loaded set of doubles had gone over the 110 Freeway and landing in the embankment where the 101 Freeway merges below. The tractor and first trailer were in a ditch over the guard rail, while the second trailer was still upright on the freeway.

Josh informed, “The obvious decision was to first split the rear trailer and get that out of the way before tackling the tractor and first trailer.”

Josh used his 50-ton rotator, Hulk, to first winch back the rear trailer to release all tension on the tongue since it was badly damaged and pushed up against the first trailer. Once the tongue was straightened out, he used his 9-inch Milwaukee cut off saw to cut the tongue. Then he ran an air-line to the rear trailer and used the rotator to “walk” it out of the way.

“Dave and I positioned our rotators so that we could perform a complex lift and swing,” explained Josh. “Where we would lift the tractor attached to the first trailer off the side, then rotate between our trucks 180-degrees to the other side and set directly onto the Landoll.

The team rigged Big Flipper to the loaded trailer using four 15-foot chains, with wood to crib to help protect the trailer. Josh used Hulk to rig to the tractor, using a 10-foot synthetic equalizing sling around the engine frame on one line, and the other line attached to the rear of the tractor. Josh declared, “The equalizer sling allowed me to lift the front of the tractor evenly without overloading one side.”

When they were fully rigged, both rotators simultaneously winched in to bring the tractor and trailer to them. Then they performed a vertical lift as it came close to the guardrail. “Once we had it airborne, we swung the tractor trailer in between the rotators and onto the opposite side, where my Landoll backed up underneath it and we set it down,” informed Josh.

They set it down, chained it to the Landoll and Josh used Hulk to tow the second trailer using wide forks, omega links with emergency and service air lines.

Everything was towed back to Pepe’s Towing in Los Angeles, then shortly after was towed to the customer’s base in Fontana, approximately 60-miles away.

Pepe’s Towing Service was established in 1978, by Jose and Delfina Acosta. As the business grew, Jose Jr. and brother Manuel “Manny” followed in their father’s footsteps by taking an interest in the towing business and became full-time employees in 1987. In 1989, Lorenzo Navarro joined the Acosta brothers and became an integral part of the company. More than 40 years later, Pepe's is still family owned and operated. Manny runs the Inland Empire offices and Jose Jr. runs the LA offices. Jose’s son Joshua “Josh” is the manager the LA base of operations. They have over 90 employees, a fleet of over 80 trucks, including everything from light to super heavy-duty and specialized equipment. Pepe’s has yards located in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Their specialty and primary focus is medium- and heavy-duty towing and recovery.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!

Simple Act of Kindness

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By Jim “Buck” Sorrenti

What started as a tractor-trailer recovery turned into a rescue mission for a dog. On August 27, 2021 True’s Towing & Recovery was called by the Michigan State Police to respond to a tractor-trailer accident at Mile Marker 61 on Interstate 94 (I-94) at around 10 p.m.

Rob True, his son Travis True and operator James Squires were dispatched in their 2019 Peterbilt 389 with a Jerr-Dan 50/60 ton rotator, a 2014 Kenworth T800 with an NRC 40CS 40-ton and a 2013 Ford F-350 with major incident response trailer.

Rob, Travis and James arrived on scene to find the truck on a bridge embankment with the front of unit hanging over a 25-foot drop to the bottom.

The crew rigged two lines from the black Jerr-Dan 50/60 rotator to straps through the front wheels of the casualty. Travis explained, “The rotator lifted the nose of the unit off the wall back onto the highway. We removed all loose components. The NRC 40CS loaded the combination tractor-trailer for transport back to the impound yard.”

The wife of the truck driver called about the dog the following morning. Rob and his wife headed to the impound yard to check for the dog. Rob said, “We work a lot of horrific crashes and you sometimes struggle to understand why. The next morning we receive a call wondering if we knew the whereabouts of one of the crash victim’s dog. Family said he was with the driver when he left. No one had said anything about there being a dog and we didn’t see or hear a dog during the crash cleanup. I thought to myself that there was no way that a dog was still alive in that wrecked truck, so my wife and I headed out to the yard and I started going through the mangled truck. I heard something. l kept moving things and found this little guy trapped under the sleeper. He was packed in there with his leg caught, unable to move. Dehydrated, he was happy to see me. I had to pick glass off him but other than that he’s doing well.”
……………………..
True’s Towing & Recovery is based in Dowagiac, Michigan, The True family has run the business since Les True established it in 1948. Les’ son Robert E True Sr, known as Ed, owns the company, while Ed’s son Rob is the General Manager handling most of the day-to-day operations. Rob’s son Travis represents the fourth generation and is the Heavy-Duty Operations manager of this family owned and operated business. Their motto is “Any Time, Any Where, Anything!”

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim “Buck” Sorrenti at jimchaos69@yahoo.com; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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MIDWESTERN – Nacogdoches, TX
$500
(pop. 34,047)

SOUTHERN – Lake City, FL
$250
(pop. 12,099)

EASTERN - King George, VA
$145
(pop. 4,457)

WESTERN - Brentwood, CA
$276.25
(pop. 53,673)

Heavy-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
September 22 - September 28, 2021

Get the Keys

Keys 2 a8f79
By Randall C. Resch

Today’s modern vehicles have become increasingly more difficult to load and tow. Because all-wheel and front-wheel drive systems are part of the mechanical process of load and go, getting the keys is a necessary safety requirement upon which every tow operator should insist.

When motorists have control of the vehicle’s keys … dangerous things happen. There’s a simple industry fact that says, “If a tower doesn’t have control of the vehicle’s keys, they don’t have control of the vehicle.”

True Safety Factor

Example One: A California tower serviced an out-of-gas Dodge van; one of those old 318 Cummings high-compression motors. As he poured a sip of gas into the carburetor, the owner prematurely started the van. The carburetor belched fire spitting flame and fuel on the tower’s neck, face and uniform. His burns were critical.

Example Two: A tower responded to a service call where a starter-motor was stuck. He jacked the car up and shimmied underneath to tap the starter with a hammer. While lying under the vehicle, its driver cycled the key and the vehicle jolted forward causing it to fall partially off-the-jack onto the tower. A passerby luckily made quick work jacking the car off him saving his life.

Example Three: A customer waited three-hours for a wrecker to winch his stuck Jeep from a cement ditch. Upset, the motorist asked the tower if he should put the Jeep in neutral. Although the tower responded “No” while walking away, the customer didn’t hear the towers response. In an instant, the customer reached through the open door and shifted to neutral. The vehicle rolled backwards and snagged the tower’s shirt, dragging him backwards. He was critically injured.

Each of these scenarios all could have been prevented by obtaining the keys first before work started.

A Different Consideration

An entitled, disgruntled and sue-happy businessman, owner of a second generation Hummer, decided the cops and tow operator (me) weren’t going to impound his car that racked $1,000 in parking fines.

The Hummer was parked between two cars facing downhill and I was in a carrier. On my arrival, the owner and cop had expended enough verbal energy to create a small gathering. I asked for his keys explaining it would be easier on his Hummer if I simply drove it to the carrier. In full rage, he said, “^*&(%k you!” Challenge extended.

He locked and alarmed the car stuffing keys into his eel-skin jacket. The officer had no-luck explaining that keys would make it easier to get the vehicle out. The owner told the cop, “^*&(%k you!” Challenge accepted.

The officer invited the owner to have a seat curbside as I worked pivot-magic, pivoting his Hummer sideways and out of its parking space on dry pavement. He nearly soiled himself having heard the sound of "errt, errt, errt, denoting dry, screeching tires atop the pavement … you know the sound. I left a readily available gallon of soapy water in the side-box on-purpose. He bounced-up ready to hand me the keys. My response was quick, “Sorry, too late!”

Some Don’t Play

There are plenty of motorists who feel they shouldn’t or don’t have to surrender keys. Perhaps it’s a trust thing? It’s important towers take time to provide complete safety instructions to owners regarding the type of service, winch-out or recovery task at hand.

I won’t ask a non-experienced vehicle owner to assist. Getting one’s keys is paramount to attain that higher level of safety. Because you can’t trust a vehicle owner’s actions, getting the vehicle’s keys will increase your on-scene safety.

Fast forward to Mr. Hummer’s day in-court when he sued the city and me; he lost miserably and got a costly lesson from the judge he won’t likely forget. I remember the plaintiff’s grin drooped when the judge called him “Guilty, irresponsible and childlike.” Ya’ know … some days it’s just great to be alive.

Challenging DOT Inspections

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Brian J Riker

I’m sure almost everyone reading this has had an inspection from motor carrier enforcement sometime in their career, probably more than one, and likely at least one they felt was incorrect or unfair. One of the services I provide is reviewing roadside inspection reports for my clients and I can say without a doubt there are plenty of instances in which an officer may have been incorrect in their understanding of the regulations or what they were looking at on a vehicle.

Fortunately, when this happens, there is a process to challenge the inspection report called DataQ. It is a fairly simple report to file and submit to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (US DOT) who will then forward it to the reporting agency for review. Now, where this process is troublesome is in several states when the request for review goes back to the Officer that issued the violation. Keep this in mind when interacting with these Officers at roadside as your professional demeanor may make all the difference in their willingness to work with you later on, either in Court or during the DataQ process.

It is important to note that if you also receive a citation to accompany your violation report and that citation is later dismissed or amended by a Court, your Safety Management System record must also be modified upon request (by filing a Data Q with a copy of the court records) to reflect this change.

So, why is this all important? Even when you feel like the Officer did you a favor and only wrote a violation on the inspection report and didn’t issue a fine or citation, these violations still affect your safety score. This can result in increased insurance premiums, or in the case of a recent client of mine, a threat to non-renew their insurance because of a perceived deficiency in fleet safety. In this client’s case they were not doing anything incorrect, the Officer was applying the incorrect regulation, and I was able to have these violations removed from their record and the Officer received refresher training to prevent any future recurrence. These are just a few of the reasons why it is very important to understand the full impact of a citation or inspection report with violations noted. Often the impact is much greater than just the fine amount and inconvenience of being detained while inspected.

How do I challenge a violation? A good challenge begins with a thorough investigation, which starts with asking the Officer to point out the violation to you so that you can fully understand what they are claiming. If safe to do so, take plenty of pictures of the area(s) in question (both close up and distant) being sure to make it clear you are still at the inspection location. These will allow an in-depth review of the alleged violation to determine if it is in fact a violation. Photos are key to a successful challenge either in Court or thru the DataQ process. If you must make repairs or corrections before continuing, or even later at a repair shop, have the condition before and after well documented to support your position that there may not have been a violation.

If a citation was issued along with the inspection report wait until after trial to file your DataQ challenge. If the citation is dismissed or amended then noting beyond a copy of the court record needs to be submitted to have the report updated. If no citation was issued you can file a DataQ challenge as soon as you have gathered enough supporting documentation to show there was no violation at the time of the inspection.

Bottom line, we all make mistakes. It is on you as a professional to know the rules and regulations that govern your business. Knowing what is permissible goes a long way in avoiding inspections with violations, and when incorrectly accused of a violation helping to set the record straight. Insurance companies are watching your DOT safety record closely so it is very important to challenge anything that may be incorrect. Your company’s survival may depend on it.

Formal vs. In-House Training

By Randall C. Resch

In an open tow forum, participant’s questioned, “What’s the best training program in the industry?” Another participant inquired, “Why isn’t my in-house training program recognized by law enforcement?”

Towers, especially owners have a real disconnect in-understanding the differences of formal versus informal in-house training. What’s not understood: approved recognition and operator liability.

When something tragically happens, how do you prove your operators were trained in-accordance to industry acceptable training? What’s considered “Acceptable,” who teaches it, and was that training approved by a governing entity? Was the tower’s actions in-line with the agency’s formal training guidelines?

Tow owners are responsible for their employee’s actions, better known as “Vicarious Liability.” Because today’s towers face an incredibly increasing litigious society, tow companies are sued for the smallest incidents. Wrong or right, every substantial case will first and foremost attack operator training regardless as to how much time a tower has worked the trenches. Where no formal training exists, the best in-house training falls short when a judge and jury learn personnel weren’t formally trained.

While all training is good training, on-line training isn’t hands-on training. On-line training doesn’t match the same visual and "all senses" experience that live, hands-on courses do, but fills a (training need) based on Covid considerations.

Recognized and Approved?

“Is your in-house training program listed as an approved tow operator safety course? Is your in-house program accepted by your state’s highway patrol or DPS? Have your operator’s completed the free National Traffic Incident Management Course (TIM) as a basis of on-highway response?

To outwardly disregard formal, hands-on training is an owner’s major blunder where “total risk management” should be the goal of tow ownership.
There are many, outstanding, formal courses, featuring nationally recognized instructors. With each formal course come’s value, experience and particular focus as to the material presented by its instructors.

Should your company wind-up in a wrongful death scenario, or that of an extreme costly property damage lawsuit, high dollar settlements are levied against tow companies that don’t and can't show evidence of formal training. Claims against tow companies are filed for even the most peculiar reasons.

For whatever niche you serve, attend a formal course that befits your service niche. Choose a course that’s formally accepted by your state’s highway patrol or DPS. Nonetheless, continue training in-house to develop skills necessary to perfect competency and enhance operator skills.

The more formal training operators receive, the better represented they are when it comes to proving how good one “thinks they are.”

What about Reciprocation?

While there are outstanding training courses provided by equipment manufacturers specific to brand of product and equipment purchased, their courses may not be recognized by your state. Certificates of Completion may not be exchanged or mutually recognition in other states.

The motoring public and law enforcement community have expectations that operators are formally trained in-safe vehicle operations and equipment handling. I’m confident to say there are plenty of formal and acceptable training programs to meet the needs of serving the highways as well as basic tow and transport procedures.

Choose a course that provides the most formal exposure and safety training for your educational dollar. And don’t spend your money until you’ve pre-determined your state’s formal training requirements. 

________________________________

Operations Editor Randall C. Resch is a retired California police officer and veteran tow business owner, manager, consultant and trainer. For 51-years, he has been involved in the towing and recovery industry. In 24-years, he has contributed more than 625-articles for American Towman Magazine and TowIndustryWeek.com. He was inducted to the International Towing and Recovery Industry Hall of Fame and was the 3rd recipient of the industry's, "Dave Jones Leadership Award." Email Randy at rreschran@gmail.com.   



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September 22 - September 28, 2021

Somber Themed Patriotic Wrap 

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By George L. Nitti 

When tow owner Tommy Gass of Gass Auto of Santa Fe, Texas was in the market for a rotator, his driver Eric Dierdorff knew that he was interested in a wrap that had a military theme, but one that was more understated.  

Turning to the graphics team at Siddons-Martin, which specializes in outfitting fire trucks, Gass and Dierdorff worked together for a couple of weeks with their graphic designer to come up with an eye-catching, subtly decorated, patriotic theme on their 2021 Kenworth T880 with a Jerr Dan 50/60. 

Packing significant punch on the side of the rotator is a bright, red, white and blue, stars and striped American Flag - simply embedded in the “Gass” part of the company name, over a black outline of the United States.  

“I definitely wanted the flag incorporated, but didn’t want it all over the truck,” said Dierdorf. “It’s the same logo we have on our other trucks, but without the flag.” 

That same colorful logo, although small, also stands out against the unit’s red background on the side doors. Towards the backend of the rotator, the same “Gass” name appears, but understated, in black and white, without the flag. 

As a former fire fighter and a member of a motorcycle club promoting awareness of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), Dierdorff was also intent on including a soldier kneeling before a helmet-topped rifle stuck in the ground.  

A powerful and enduring image found on other military themed wraps, this is a tribute to soldiers killed in battle, symbolizing loss and closure for the surviving soldiers as they honor their comrades who sacrificed their lives for their country.  

Across the rotator, other soldiers are found in silhouette, as the crimson red background provides a somewhat darker themed twist on patriotism.

The subtle flavors of the faded, black scripted words from the American Constitution run their way across the unit and are further enhanced by contrasting areas of torn out metal and marble mesh background. 

Somberly rendered, this wrap particularly stands out at night, with reflective lettering.  

Brag @ TIW!  

Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine! 

Eye Candy Camouflaged Design

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George L. Nitti

Although a camouflaged design is often meant to conceal an object or person from discovery, when displayed in the open, like a tow truck, you can bet it catches the eye.

In the case of Mr. C’s Towing, with a main location in Los Alamitos, Calif., that is good news, as their latest wrap, done in a blue, gray and white patterned camouflage, turns heads and leaves a memorable impression.

According to Mr. C’s general manager, Ricky Northcutt, a 17-year veteran of the company, Mr. C’s tow trucks are uniquely wrapped, including their 2019 Chevy 6500HD with a Vulcan lift.

Northcutt said, “The inspiration behind the wrap came from a YouTuber called Daily Driven Exotics that drives around in a Lamborghini. We copied the design. He goes to shows and does documentaries on his adventures. When his car breaks down we come to pick him up. He has an audience in the millions.”

Like the wrap on the Lamborghini, Mr. C’s newly minted Chevy was wrapped by the same company, Protective Film Solutions of Costa Mesa, Calif.

Outside of the highly immersive, eye candy camouflaged pattern, the white lettering is easy to read, clearly presenting the company name on the side of the unit, large lettering spelling out 24 hour service, several of its other locations, it’s phone number and the purpose that it serves: official police towing.

For Mr. C’s, this is the 3rd time they have switched out their recovery truck, keeping the same Vulcan wrecker originally purchased in the 90’s.

Northcutt said, “Although Ford commands about 85% of the light duty market, we are ‘Chevy Guys.’ For a while Chevy was out of the towing market but now they are back in.”

With approximately 50 units in their fleet, the bulk of Mr. C’s work includes police impounds, recoveries, and high-end towing, where they transport as far as Santa Barbara and Las Vegas.

“Orange County Calif. is the exotic car county of California,” Northcutt said. “We do about 20 cars a day transporting cars to and from car shows and old vintage porsches to people like Jay Leno.”

Northcutt further added, “To do this kind of work, you have to gain trust with the customer. In Orange County, everyone knows who we are.”

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!

Meet the Boss

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By George L. Nitti

Nowhere do we see the love of country more fervently on display than on tow trucks throughout the industry. Towers are patriotic people and showcase those sentiments on their trucks, far and wide.

When Matthew Monarchie, owner of Tow Boss Towing & Recovery of Fishkill, N.Y., recently acquired a 2020 Ford F550 4x4 with a 19 ft’ Century 10 Series from Elizabeth Truck Center, he once again paid homage to his love of country, decking out his new purchase with a dazzling patriotic themed wrap executed from Extreme Designs of Carmel, N.Y.

Matthew said, “I did a patriotic themed unit because the way this country is going, somebody has to stand up for it. People should honor the fact that we are free. We wake up every morning alive and not in a jungle. This is America, where we are fortunate to live the American Dream.”

For Matthew, his business of 12 years is the result, as he and his wife Michelle have worked tirelessly to build their dream business.

The pristine unit, which Matthew calls “on point,” first and foremost showcases the American flag, with the stars and stripes prominently enveloped over the entire truck, from front to back, serving as the core backdrop.

Michelle said, “The patriotic theme will always be part of our motif. My daughter was in the military, and my Dad was in the military.”

However, this patriotic themed truck does not stop there, as law enforcement is given honor, with a thin blue line rendered along the bottom of one of the toolboxes just under an American Flag. Michelle said, “We do a lot of towing with the state police. We have patriotism towards our law enforcement.”

On the other toolbox, a yellow line gives acknowledgement to the tow operators who are killed roadside. Matthew said, “Did you know that one tow operator is killed every six days?”

The fine detail of the truck is enhanced with an etching on the side window of a chain and hook.

Abetting the patriotic design is a leftover image used on their other trucks: A large skull with a cowboy hat, found on the sides of the unit as well as majestically reproduced on its hood.

Matthew said, “We threw that in. We wanted something to pop with the flag. And I wanted something with a design to show that we have no fear.”

The company’s fearless image goes along with its company name, “Tow Boss,”which is deftly illustrated, popping out on its sides, front visor position and on a classy medallion that sits in the center of the front grill.

“My kids and wife made up the name. I’m always bossing them around,” he said.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at georgenitti@gmail.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
September 22 - September 28, 2021

DHC2000 ProMaster Welding Kit

TorchKit 88002
The DHC2000 is an oxy-acetylene torch capable of welding, cutting, brazing, soldering, leading and preheating a variety of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, such as: Mild Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum and Cast Iron. The DHC2000 is the perfect tool for any metal working industry, such as: Fabricating, Metal Art, Automotive Restoration, Farm and Ranch, HVAC and much more. The DHC2000 runs on 4 lbs oxygen and 4 lbs acetylene. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty!

Key Features

Versatility

The combination of low velocity flame and concentrated heat deliver a new level of welding control and versatility. Since the DHC2000 operates with a flame velocity up to four times lower than a conventional torch, it prevents the molten weld puddle from 'blow out', enabling welding of difficult materials such as Aluminum.

Superior Control

The ergonomic pistol-grip torch body is made from lightweight durable cast aluminum and permits a more natural working position. The oxygen trigger is placed in the grip of the torch handle for cutting actuation at your finger tips. A unique dual cutting tip configuration separates the oxygen delivery point from the pre-heat source. This design produces narrow, square cuts, that require minimal secondary cleaning. The DHC2000 efficiently cuts mild steel up to one-inch thick.

Fuel Efficient

A unique mixing chamber assures optimum gas mixing for an exceptionally efficient, clean burning flame. That means less money spent refilling your oxygen and acetylene tanks.

For more information on this product - https://detroittorch.com/products/dhc2000-promaster-kit

Smart ROI Auxiliary Suspension

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Link Mfg., Ltd., which develops and manufactures a variety of suspensions, suspension controls and specialty air management products, unveiled the first family of intelligent auxiliary suspension systems - the 8K, 10K, 13.5K and 20K ROI Auxiliary Suspensions Systems. These systems are expected to be commercially available in 2022.

Link’s automated ROI self-steer and non-steer auxiliary suspension systems will increase asset utilization, reduce training time, improve safety, and will be compatible with OEM and aftermarket integration.

The ROI Auxiliary Suspension System will sense and maintain optimal tire-to-ground pressure, reducing tire wear and maximizing fuel mileage. With Link’s intelligent load-balancing auxiliary suspension system, the guesswork of when to lift or lower is removed so even inexperienced drivers can maintain maximum traction without overloading the axles.

Eli DeGroff, product manager, Road Optimized Innovations for Link Mfg. said in a statement. “Unlike traditional all-on or all-off auxiliary axles, Link’s smart suspensions are able to determine the load they need to bear and automatically adjust to precisely accommodate that weight.”

With Link’s ROI Auxiliary Suspension System, fleets will be able to get new drivers trained and working in less time. Mike Leakey, vice president of sales and marketing for Link Mfg., said, “Exceeding axle ratings can be dangerous as well as costly due to unscheduled maintenance and fines. Now even novice drivers can avoid these issues, maintaining safety and efficiency.”

Link’s load-balancing auxiliary suspension system with ROI keeps a vehicle’s drive axles loaded, keeping traction and braking at optimal performance levels. Link’s ROI technology reduces strain on frames and primary suspension components and lowers operating costs.

“Using Link suspensions with ROI technology, fleets and independent owner-operators can expect superior handling, better fuel mileage, reduced tire wear, more uptime, and a lower overall cost of ownership,” said Leakey.

For more information about this product, https://www.linkmfg.com/dealers.

Spill Tackle

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Perfect for a wide range of spills in municipality operations. Manufacturing, oil and gas, spill response, industrial, fabrication, processing, rendering, hospitals, schools and more can easily utilize Spill Tackle bags on a daily basis. USDA bio preferred (sustainable), absorbs petroleum fluids off top of water, and 4 – 6 times more absorbent than clay.

Key Features:

• Absorbs on contact
• No residual mess
• Decomposes Hydrocarbons
• EPA Leachate Approved
• Less Dust – Silica Free
• Environmentally Sustainable

Upon our first use at an accident scene, we were absolutely blown away by how well it performed compared to other products we had used. It was lightweight and very easy to spread on the affected area. Spill Tackle definitely suprassed our expectations. Doug Harvey, Harvey's Auto Body & Towing, Baden, PA.  For more information, https://www.spilltackle.com/




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September 22 - September 28, 2021
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September 22 - September 28, 2021
Tim Nielsen

Repo Agent Killed in Oakland, Ca.

 Tim Nielsen, a repossession agent for Any Capital Recovery Inc., was shot and killed in Oakland, Ca., on 6/14 while working on assignment.  

According to Nielsen’s boss and friend Lerron Payne, he was shot at an intersection writing a report in his truck. He then managed to drive away, but crashed into a building in East Oakland, a couple of blocks away.  

Payne said, “He wasn’t even hooking a car. Everything went south. It’s a rough industry, don’t get me wrong but this is pretty much the extreme.” 

Family and friends described Tim Nielsen, a father to four, as their rock and their hero. 

“This is a man that I can say gave unconditional love to everyone and all he ever wanted to do was help people. That was his dream, his purpose in life,” said Jennifer Huff-Wensmann, the victim’s girlfriend. 

Oakland police said no one has been arrested in the case. They are looking at all possibilities, from a random attack to the possibility it was related to a repo assignment. 

https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com

Auto Finance Boom Reported

According to the Brookhaven Courier, a newspaper run by students at Dallas College, the auto finance industry has seen a boom since the emergence of Covid-19, particularly the used car market. Part of this spike has to do with stimulus check and unemployment benefits.

Inske Zandvliet, economics professor at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus, said the demand for used cars is higher due to COVID-19. “People want to avoid traveling on public transport, so they are purchasing cars,” she said. “This leads to the second reason – a new car is a larger purchase. Since economic times are now uncertain, in terms of employment, many people choose to purchase a used car since it is not as expensive.”

Due to the sudden demand for used cars, auto finance companies such as Vehicle Solutions Corp profited, according to CNBC Evolve. 

David Ricci, the company’s repossession manager, said his workload remained steady. “I was expecting to have to repo a lot more cars in the beginning,” Ricci said. “But as it went on, the collections teams ended up keeping the customers current or making payment arrangements, so they didn’t get repossessed.”

Because used cars were selling better, there was a demand for them. “The subprime market was pretty strong, so the cars we did repo sold for a good amount,” Ricci said. The proceeds of the sales helped to offset the losses from cutting back on funding.

https://brookhavencourier.com/107120/local-news/the-auto-finance-boom-during-a-pandemic/

Repo Leads to Arrest in Firearms and Explosives

A repossession of a Mercedes in San Francisco led to the discovery of cache of firearms and explosives in late February. The perpetrator, who had a criminal history, was eventually arrested.

The sequence of events started when 31-year-old Cameron Ybarra shot at a repossessor, missing him and putting a bullet in the driver’s side of his car. After he retrieved items out of the car, he went into his residence, where he retrieved an assault rifle and pointed it at the repo man.

The driver “disconnected the vehicle, fled the area and called 911.”

Police followed up, impounding the Mercedes but were unable to find the shooter until they converged on his residence.

According to a police report, “SFPD investigators from the Crime Gun Investigations Center (CGIC) and Gang Task Force (GTF), along with special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) responded to the suspect’s residence to arrest the suspect and serve a search warrant.”

After officers arrested him, they found inside the house an assault rifle, ammunition, bosy armor, a silencer, bomb making materials and other things.

Ybarra was booked for carrying a concealed weapon, possession of ammunition by a prohibited person, negligent discharge of a firearm, possession of a silencer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of an explosive device and resisting arrest.

https://www.crimevoice.com/2021/03/09/firearms-explosives/

Repo Job Turns into Bizarre Arrest

75 year old John Beasly of Tenn., whose white Kia was repo’ed and then reported stolen, was arrested when pulled over driving his own car.

Though the car was registered as stolen, police confirmed Beasley was the registered owner of the car.

“It turns out the vehicle is his. He reported it stolen. It had been repossessed. He did not tell the police that it was not stolen and he got it back, so it could be removed from the system. So, it was still in the system,” said Belle Meade, Tenn. Police Sgt. Jon Carter.

It was then that police learned that Beasley had two warrants for his arrest, one for misdemeanor trespassing and the other for felony vandalism.

Sgt. Carter said, “Basically he called the cops on himself. He completely forgot he reported it stolen. Even when I told him it is still showing as stolen, he said, it is not, it is my car. And then it finally clicked that he reported it when it was repo’ed.”

https://www.wkrn.com/
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