Business owner alleges theft after unsolicited tow company takes trailer with $40K in frozen chicken

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A tractor trailer with $40,000 worth of frozen chicken was towed last week away under false pretenses, said the business owner who hired the driver.

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.

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"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.



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:
  • Motorists should never accept a tow, unless they or their insurance company called for a tow.

  • Never sign any document that doesn't have specific charges for services.

  • Read any form you are given to sign very carefully and only sign an "Authorization to Tow" form or the "towing bill receipt"


  • You do not have to sign an "Authorization to Repair" form to have your vehicle towed and you are not required to sign a "Designated Representative" form. A "Designated Representative" form gives the towing company the authority to represent you when dealing with your insurance company. You don't want that.

  • Take photos of the truck and driver and involved vehicles at the scene. Make notes about the tow truck -any markings, the license plate number and the driver's name. If any repair work is going to be done on your vehicle get the details in writing and never sign a blank form.


  • Should you have a problem with a tow that took place in Chicago:
  • First, contact the tow company to try to resolve the problem. If that doesn't go anywhere, put your complaint in writing to the company's upper management or the owner.

  • If the problem still doesn't get resolved, please call 3-1-1 to file a complaint with BACP and we will investigate.

  • If you believe a business is operating fraudulently please file a complaint with 3-1-1. This department has zero tolerance for consumer fraud and deception.


  • Remember:
  • Make sure the tow company shows proof that it's licensed by the state Ask for identification for the driver Get documentation about the towing service that being provided

  • Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud must file a complaint with 311. BACP uses that complaint to bring a case against fraudulent businesses and run them out of town.
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