In recent weeks, multiple incidents of vehicles being taken by a predatory towing operation have been reported in Chicago.
The operation, which may be orchestrated by gangs, monitors police scanners and intercept requests for tow trucks. When the tow truck appears unsolicited at crash scenes, they essentially take the vehicle hostage, demanding money.
Wednesday night, the tractor trailer filled with chicken struck an overpass at 49th and Western Avenue. Before the driver could place a call, he was approached by a tow truck offering to help.
RELATED: 2 men accused of running fake towing operation, pretending to be with Chicago city workers
"They make him believe they're going to help him make the delivery. The driver unhooks. Signs some sort of blank piece of paper," said Lydia Trusova, a business owner who hired that driver to deliver the chicken.
The delivery never took place and the trailer was nowhere to be found. Trusova reported it stolen.
Late Thursday, the driver got a call, "saying, 'Pick up your trailer. We're here until 5 p.m. and, by the way, your bills is $18,500 and change,'" Trusova said.
Operating under the name of Ondevas Towing, the company, which, according to records, has been in business for less than a year, lists its address at 8825 S. Genoa Avenue in Chicago's Auburn Gresham neighborhood.
The property owner said Monday that there are no offices, and the company only leases the yard to park towed vehicles.
The towing is nearly identical to an incident that happened Thursday in Chicago when two men impersonating city employees by wearing vests with the city logo intercepted a call for a tow truck. The men took a tractor truck and trailer.
Trusova spent Monday afternoon at Amigo Foods, trying to make delivery of the frozen chicken-five days late. They are currently in the process of inspecting the chicken to make sure the refrigeration was not interrupted during the trailer's stay at the tow yard.
Monday afternoon, a Ondevas Towing representative denied using any misleading tactics and called the incident "a big misunderstanding."
Police are still investigating the case and are reminding people that a tow truck never automatically shows up after an accident. Also, any authorized city towing services must present you with documentation of the request.
In recent weeks, #ChicagoPolice have uncovered a predatory towing operation which we believe may be orchestrated by gangs. Tow trucks appear unsolicited at scenes & essentially take cars hostage & later extort owners. In yesterdays case, men were impersonating city employees. pic.twitter.com/fL249GFUsc— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) April 6, 2019
TIPS FOR TOWING
Courtesy of the City of Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Office
When dealing with a towing company there are several things you can to do to protect yourself from being scammed:
Should you have a problem with a tow that took place in Chicago: