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Background story, After making my last delivery on friday night I parked my truck with trailer on a plaza lot where my friend has a decent size restaurant, I was parked right behind his unit.

On Sunday 1pm I went go to get some stuff from the truck and it was gone. After looking around I found small label with towing company information.

At 3pm on Sunday I was at their lot getting my vehicle, I got into the vehicle and saw that it wasnt the same as I left and the dash cam that is attached to windshield was ripped off and swinging on the power cable.

I asked the guy why they got into my vehicle and his response was that they need to disconnect the trailer from truck and tow the two pieces separately and then connect them back again at the lot.

They billed me 1500 for the towing and service which they only wanted cash and didn't accept any card.

I got the truck paid full amount in cash and have a receipt from them with all the info and charges.

The owner (friend) of the restaurant showed me a video of them getting to my vehicle and driving off the plaza lot making a left turn into the main road at 2am Sunday morning. There is no tow truck in the video or someone disconnecting the trailer. You can clearly see a guy with something in his hand opening a door and 10 minutes later backing up and driving away and then a red pickup following him.

What are my options here? Can tow company drive my vehicle to their lot themselves? What laws are they breaking? What should I do?

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    Any idea how they would have started it without a key? Is there any evidence of tampering with or damage to the vehicle? Are you questioning the legality of the tow, or just the bill for towing? (considering they didn't actually tow). Or just whether you can claim any damages/fraud etc?
    – Smock
    Oct 16, 2019 at 8:10
  • There is no damage to the lock but they said they can open any car with computer. Im questioning the legality of the tow, as far as I know they had to physically tow the truck and not drive it themselves, what if they crashed it or hit someone while driving it
    – Markov
    Oct 16, 2019 at 11:57
  • So the method of tow(or not) rather than whether you should have been towed at all ?
    – Smock
    Oct 16, 2019 at 12:11
  • Yes method of towing, I dont believe they are allowed to drive my vehicle to their lot 15 miles away, I believe it should have been towed by another truck. Which they claim it was towed but i have a video of them driving it away and no tow truck on scene
    – Markov
    Oct 16, 2019 at 12:24
  • IANAL, and unsure of jurisdiction, but possible they were not insured to do so (only insured to tow). Also - if they drove it there, you might be able to counter claim for fuel usage?? Not sure what you could do about it though - report them as uninsured drivers? Would it count as B&E (if nothing was broken)? Could you claim you had money in the glove box that is now missing?
    – Smock
    Oct 16, 2019 at 12:25

2 Answers 2

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From a comment on the question:

They did damage the trailer door and headlight is smashed

This seems like the best thing to focus on, especially if you can show that it was not damaged before they towed it. The unusual method of towing (with video evidence) may be a factor in whether they are considered negligent. If the damage to the door looks like they caused it directly by breaking in, that would also help your case.

You also asked in your comment if you should go to the police or to a lawyer first. Might as well go to the lawyer and see what they tell you to do. I'm not sure what the police would do if there is no clear crime that has been committed. (The lawyer should have better advice about whether/why to go to the police.)

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My towing company used to specialize in Private Property Towing in California. This driving of vehicles is a practice that our staff engaged in regularly, and I completely disagree with it. As a matter of fact, I stopped the practice. I will tell you; the wording makes all the difference. Our contract provides for the removal of illegally parked vehicles/vessels from private properties. Considering there is no law governing the method we use to remove them, the easy way out for them is to charge you for removal and storage. If they use "Towing" on the invoice, there may be grounds to file a small claim under business codes for essentially overcharging you.

Additionally, I would ensure the driver holds a license in the class to which your truck belongs. I would also check if their insurance covers your vehicle if they crash while driving. We must have "on hook" coverage to cover items we are towing, but I do not have coverage if my drivers are driving a vehicle since that would require an additional endorsement. In addition, only certain businesses and individuals are permitted to possess and use lockout/locksmith tools, including computers.

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