For Whom the Truck Tows: Man Accused of Predatory Towing of Gay Days Participants' Vehicles Arrested

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    Jul 26, 2014 7:29 PM GMT
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-gay-days-predatory-towing-arrest-20140725,0,5193272.story

    But hey, maybe it's his "sincerely held" belief to screw with Gay Days every year! Amirite, Alito? icon_razz.gif

    Orlando SentinelThe owner of a towing company was arrested Friday and charged with illegally towing vehicles of people who took part in last month's Gay Days events in Orange County.

    Jason P. Combs, 44, owner of ASAP Towing, faces 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and other charges. Deputies allege he towed more than 100 vehicles June 5 to 9 from a parking lot at Westwood Town Center off International Drive, which is across the street from the event's host hotel, Doubletree by Hilton. Combs didn't have an up-to-date contract to tow vehicles or have proper signage notifying motorists the lot was a tow-away zone, deputies said...

    Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said the towing company also targeted vehicles the year before during Gay Days activities. During weekends with events other than Gay Days the company completed a "minuscule amount of tows," he said.

    Schmeltzer also said the towing company had "spotters" to look for people who left the center so their vehicles [could] be towed.

    "With many of these people, their cars were towed within 5, 10 15 minutes [of parking]," he said. "This was total predator towing. There's really no other word for it."

    The tow truck would hide around the corner and when a spotter saw someone walk across the street to the hotel, the spotters would call the truck and the vehicle would be towed, the complaint says.

    Those whose cars were [towed] would have to take a cab ride to the towing company and were charged $165 cash to get their car, including a $40 "gate fee," which isn't permitted under Florida law, the complaint says...

    According to the complaint, ASAP had a contract with Westwood, but that it expired in May. The contract was not renewed until mid-June, after the Gay Days event. In an email between Combs and the owner, Combs asked to back date the contract so the Gay Days event would be included and avoid "any technicalities," the complaint says.

    "This is further evidence that Jason Combs knew he had no contract in place and was not authorized to tow vehicles from Westwood Town Center," the complaint said...

    Authorities say ASAP also violated Florida law because the cars were towed more than 10 miles away to its Belle Isle location. Companies have to be in "strict compliance" with Florida law, and ASAP only followed some of the laws.

    "He's one of those [business owners] that wants to pick and choose what [laws] he's going to follow," Schmeltzer said.

    Victims also felt ASAP employees were rude and they felt bullied and intimidated.
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    Jul 28, 2014 12:41 PM GMT
    Oh please, this is a common practice anywhere wherever there is a big event.

    You seem to be implying that the guy specifically targeted gays - I doubt it - he specifically targeted cars , and not just gay cars.
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    Jul 28, 2014 2:04 PM GMT
    Jack_NNJ saidOh please, this is a common practice anywhere wherever there is a big event.

    You seem to be implying that the guy specifically targeted gays - I doubt it - he specifically targeted cars , and not just gay cars.


    Agree.
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    Jul 28, 2014 2:16 PM GMT
    here, the local towing companies are thought to be a little more aggressive in the gay bro area.
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    Jul 28, 2014 2:20 PM GMT
    Jack_NNJ saidOh please, this is a common practice anywhere wherever there is a big event.

    You seem to be implying that the guy specifically targeted gays - I doubt it - he specifically targeted cars , and not just gay cars.

    The majority of cars at an event like Gay Days are going to be owned by gays. DUH!

    The proof is whether this tow truck operator has a past pattern of this behavior.

    Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said the towing company also targeted vehicles the year before during Gay Days activities. During weekends with events other than Gay Days the company completed a "minuscule amount of tows," he said. [Underline mine]

    Well, there goes your theory. You did read the article, right? icon_razz.gif

    Now whether it's because this operator has a personal bias against gays, or he thinks gay are easy targets who won't complain, or some other motivation, I don't know. But specifically target gays he does. Maybe as his staunch defender you can volunteer to help pay his legal costs for him.
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    Jul 28, 2014 3:18 PM GMT
    pellaz saidhere, the local towing companies are thought to be a little more aggressive in the gay bro area.


    I doubt it's because of homophobia. It's about money, opportunism. Hire some large, able men to watch your car when you leave it. Fight fire with fire.
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    Jul 28, 2014 4:05 PM GMT
    Jack_NNJ said
    [...] Hire some large, able men to watch your car when you leave it. Fight fire with fire.


    Why not just grab a fire extinguisher?

    I'd be damned optimistic to say that all problems in our world, large or small, will be solved, and that once one is taken care of, it will never happen again--but parking our vehicles is just one of those things that is always going to happen when we're not driving it. Is there a legal mandate that says our vehicles are subject to being randomly towed by thugs when not in use? Or do we have laws, regulations, and rules that aim to prevent thugs from randomly towing vehicles?

    Anyway, we all know if you really wanted to protect your vehicle, you'd get one of those sexy car defense mechanisms from Q's lab.
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    Jul 28, 2014 4:16 PM GMT
    Weird towing incident happened to me, when I came out of a Tower Records & Tapes store in SF. A tow truck driver had my car hooked up and was about to drive off with it. I tried to get the guy to let me have my car back - and he wouldn't do it unless I gave him $100 bucks cash. I almost never carry much cash and he couldn't take a debt card. I argued with him and wasn't getting anyplace until I offered him a few of the cd's I'd just bought in the store. He didn't like any of my titles and that option wasn't working for me......until the tow truck driver's kid, who was in the truck got out and looked at my cd's. Since the kid liked some of my cd's, the driver agreed to drop my car and let me go. Cost me about 9 cd's but what the Hell. Those bastards are ruthless sometimes.
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    Jul 28, 2014 4:26 PM GMT
    Kodiak said
    Is there a legal mandate that says our vehicles are subject to being randomly towed by thugs when not in use? Or do we have laws, regulations, and rules that aim to prevent thugs from randomly towing vehicles?

    This vulture in question is actually being charged with grand theft auto, a serious felony. Because he had no permit or license to remove cars, gay or otherwise.

    Despite his attorney's false claims that he was authorized, he had lost his towing permit. It was renewed after this incident. Therefore, by law, he was stealing these cars at that time.

    It's like you or I were to put "RJ Towing" on the side of a pickup truck, and started hauling off cars. A towing operation must be licensed & regulated by the proper authorities. This guy was not.

    Furthermore, depending on the jurisdiction, the towing company must first be called by the police, when the car is in a public parking space. Private parking situations are by prior contract with the property owner, and need not involve the police.

    The article doesn't say what kind of parking spaces these were. If public, however, this tow truck owner may have further legal issues. And perhaps why only 29 of the towing operations were charged as felony theft. Without a towing permit, and without police direction, taking a car from public street parking can be theft.

    Or else, what IS theft? A private citizen claims your car isn't parked legally, and takes it upon himself to tow it away? And makes you pay to get it back? What would YOU call that?
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    Jul 28, 2014 10:44 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said[...] Or else, what IS theft? A private citizen claims your car isn't parked legally, and takes it upon himself to tow it away? And makes you pay to get it back? What would YOU call that?


    Exactly! I definitely agree with you Art Deco, absolutely.


    And just to ensure that what I typed (text is a terrible medium in comparison to voice, when sharing opinions, as it's almost impossible to detect things like sarcasm) is taken in the right context, I'm on the side of what this guy was doing was wrong, it's good he has been brought to justice and must now face the consequences of his actions, and if he really was targeting gay folks then that's even worse in my view. When I wrote:

    Is there a legal mandate that says our vehicles are subject to being randomly towed by thugs when not in use? Or do we have laws, regulations, and rules that aim to prevent thugs from randomly towing vehicles?quote>

    I was intentionally being both sarcastic and rhetorical--of course there are laws, and what this goofball was doing was not only wrong from a societal perspective, but from a legal one as well.
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    Jul 28, 2014 11:07 PM GMT
    Jack_NNJ saidOh please, this is a common practice anywhere wherever there is a big event.

    You seem to be implying that the guy specifically targeted gays - I doubt it - he specifically targeted cars , and not just gay cars.


    You truly are blind to the facts. I used to wonder about you, but your above comment seals the deal for me.

    "Jason P. Combs, 44, owner of ASAP Towing, faces 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and other charges.
    ... Combs didn't have an up-to-date contract to tow vehicles or have proper signage notifying motorists the lot was a tow-away zone, deputies said."
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    Jul 28, 2014 11:56 PM GMT
    Why, yes, I do "seem to be implying" the FACTS! icon_razz.gif
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    Jul 29, 2014 5:55 AM GMT
    "ason P. Combs, 44, owner of ASAP Towing, faces 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and other charges"

    Probably the best thing I've read all day!

  • blueandgold

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    Jul 29, 2014 10:11 PM GMT
    This is actually a pretty clever title. Hehe, congratulationsHTTP ADDRESS GOES HERE
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    Jul 29, 2014 10:37 PM GMT
    blueandgold saidThis is actually a pretty clever title. Hehe, congratulations


    icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 29, 2014 11:27 PM GMT
    Jack_NNJ said
    pellaz saidhere, the local towing companies are thought to be a little more aggressive in the gay bro area.


    I doubt it's because of homophobia. It's about money, opportunism. Hire some large, able men to watch your car when you leave it. Fight fire with fire.

    Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said the towing company also targeted vehicles the year before during Gay Days activities. During weekends with events other than Gay Days the company completed a "minuscule amount of tows," he said. [Underline mine]
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 29, 2014 11:35 PM GMT
    Those of us who know I-Drive know there are a LOT of events in these areas, so "Gay Days" isn't exactly a one-off event.
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    Jul 30, 2014 1:30 PM GMT
    towing companies are the wart on the ass holeicon_evil.gif

    when someone parks in my downtown parking spot
    -the cops say its private property
    -the towing company wants a "contract" before they are willing to remove the car.
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    Jul 30, 2014 4:49 PM GMT
    pellaz saidtowing companies are the wart on the ass holeicon_evil.gif


    yep. i had a car towed once and by the time i went to go get it, they wanted many hundreds of dollars or they were going to keep it. sweet gig for them.
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    Jul 30, 2014 6:42 PM GMT
    Wilton Manors here contracted with a parking company that installed and collects from curbside parking meters, as well as metered lots. The town is small enough the company patrols & tickets from electric golf carts. A tow company has a sub-contract to remove violators.

    Amazingly the "meter maids" will first come into nearby establishments to look for owners of vehicles at expired meters, and give them a chance to go outside and insert money or do a card swipe. So they aren't entirely vultures, as they could just issue the ticket without question or further effort.

    Most of us locals have come to know these guys, and get along well with them. When they come inside we'll ask them what car they want, and we'll all go around seeing if the owner is present. It's surprisingly egalitarian, with no hard feelings about tickets when they do happen.
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    Jul 30, 2014 7:44 PM GMT
    Art_Deco saidWilton Manors here contracted with a parking company that installed and collects from curbside parking meters, as well as metered lots. The town is small enough the company patrols & tickets from electric golf carts. A tow company has a sub-contract to remove violators.

    Amazingly the "meter maids" will first come into nearby establishments to look for owners of vehicles at expired meters, and give them a chance to go outside and insert money or do a card swipe. So they aren't entirely vultures, as they could just issue the ticket without question or further effort.

    Most of us locals have come to know these guys, and get along well with them. When they come inside we'll ask them what car they want, and we'll all go around seeing if the owner is present. It's surprisingly egalitarian, with no hard feelings about tickets when they do happen.


    I've been there, and there's a surprisingly real village mentality. A good relationship with a GOOD Police department (including meter maids) makes a huge difference in the community.

    It's similar in Palm Springs, no meters though! I recently had a problem at the bar with an aggressive and threatening homeless young man. I talked to the officer after he talked to him. He was truly a GOOD Cop! He knew his name, talked to his parents, knew his conditions. He's been trying to help him. He really cared....I was blown away and very impressed.