Have you ever been a victim or know someone who has had their vehicle illegally towed? I've heard countless stories of individuals walking back to their vehicles to find their cars are gone, even when they were legally parked. When this occurs the driver of the car finds they have few alternatives but to pay. When someone purchases property the new owners also find they are locked into a contractual agreement with a private tow firm that has been executed by the previous property owner with little relief to break that agreement.
There is a need to crack down on the illegal practice which is costing people in Chicago hundreds of dollars. I've been working with the City Clerk's Office to enact legislation that will make it illegal for private tow companies to tow vehicles that are parked legally and show proof of where the vehicle was prior to towing it. My legislation will make it a requirement for companies to video/photograph any vehicle prior to towing it from private property and for them to keep copies of the photographs for a minimum of 2 years. The photo record must be made available to the vehicle owner at no charge and used to verify the actual location of tow. We should not continue to be left at the mercy of unscrupulous companies that make takingsomeone's cars a game they are guaranteed to win.
No private towing company is allowed to move vehicles from public property, whether that's streets, public garages, etc. Language in the ordinance will also hold companies liable for tows from public property. They are only allowed to tow from private property if they have a current written contract with the property owner. I've received numerous complaints about cases where a towing company will tow vehicles from a private lot claiming that they have a contract to authorize the tow despite the fact no such contract exists.
This new ordinance will hold companies responsible for these kinds of actions. In every one of these incidents, vehicle owners are forced to pay hundreds of dollars to get their vehicles back, even if they weren't at fault!
Tow companies that remove vehicles without permission or cause would face criminal charges such as theft, trespassing, and possession of a stolen vehicle. Current laws do not allow for such charges, and vehicle owners are stuck paying the fines or suing the company. It's time for our city government to implement some actions that provide drivers with some tools that guarantee you have rights in these situations. It is also time better regulations are put into place to take control of these private companies and hold them accountable to ensure they're not hurting people. I'm glad to be behind this much-needed reform.