New York, NY - Illegally Towed Vehicles Are the Newest Victims of Hurricane Sandy
New York, NY - As if victims of Sandy didn’t have enough to worry about, now they must confront unscrupulous tow truck drivers stealing their disabled or totaled vehicles for monetary gain before insurance companies have had an opportunity to assess them.
Eyewitness News reports (http://bit.ly/Xd6e0P) that the situation in the City’s hardest hit areas like the Rockaways is so bad that the NYPD’s Auto Crime Division has set up undercover patrols and checkpoints to catch unlicensed operators in the act. Police are regularly stopping tow truck drivers – particularly those whose truck bears an out-of-state plate – to ensure they have the appropriate paperwork and are on site to complete a job for which they were actually contracted.
“New York City has never had an incident like this before, so we reached out to Louisiana State Police and the New Orleans Police Department to see how they dealt with the aftermath of Katrina,” said Deputy Inspector Joseph Kenny of the NYPD Auto Crime Division.
Thus far, NYPD has caught and arrested four people posing as tow operators, including a man in Howard Beach who tried to steal a Porsche from a flood zone. Police say they expect to apprehend more thieves because tow truck operators can earn as much as $500 per vehicle at a junkyard.
In many cases, tow drivers pretend they were hired by the City and then hold the vehicles of storm victims unless they get a large payoff. “They’re securing real estate throughout the city either legally or illegally and they’re stacking cars in these locations and contacting owners and saying we had to tow your car, and now you have to pay me $1,000 storage fee and a $1,000 tow,” explained Deputy Inspector Kenny.
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