Longhorn Wrecker Illegally Towed a Car, Called the Owner the Night Before Court, and Still Lost

Categories: Housing

apartmenttow.jpeg
Greg Houston
Chris Stoffers regularly sees tow trucks from Longhorn Wrecker trolling the parking lot of his apartment complex, the Pecan Tree Apartments at 3012 Storey Lane. On August 19, they came for his.

He paid $168 to retrieve his car and then forked over an additional $26 for something called a "tow hearing" -- a trial that gives tow victims a chance to win their money back, if they can prove that the tow was illegal. His trial was scheduled for September 13, last Friday. The night before, he got a strange phone call.

See also: The Kings of the Apartment Lot Tow

It was a man from Longhorn Wrecker, who identified himself only as Patrick, Stoffers says. "He said if he sees me in public he's going to fuck me up ... and good luck getting to the tow hearing tomorrow because my car won't be there."

Stoffers called the police. According to a police report, the suspect (who isn't named) admitted to officers that he had called Stoffers that night and "confirmed that he called him 'sweety' and 'honey.'" In an interview with Unfair Park, Patrick denied threatening Stoffers.

"I would just like for that man to just leave us alone," he said. "He didn't have a resident sticker on his car, he was backed in, he was parked by the tree ... I don't want to hear anymore about this, OK?"

Consumer-rights advocate Pat Johnson, who ran several tow companies before founding the Texas Towing Compliance blog, has long accused Longhorn of using illegal signs. Under state laws, tow truck companies must provide a specific type of sign so people have fair warning before they park in a tow-away zone.

"Anyone towed by Longhorn Wrecker should file a Justice Court suit against the parking facility that has this sign posted ..." Johnson writes on his blog, with an accompanying picture of a Longhorn sign.

With Johnson's help, Stoffers studied up on the law before his trial. He also started filming Longhorn Wrecker employees in his parking lot. In one recent video, Stoffers and other Pecan Tree residents rally to save a man's car as Longhorn attempts to take it away.

"I'm recording this, you're illegally towing that car, as there are no signs present at this parking facility!" Stoffers can be heard shouting in the video. "You're a car thief, sir! There are no signs present."

Then came his hearing. Stoffers presented his case, and the judge ruled that Longhorn didn't have the legal signs to justify the tow. "I kicked ass," Stoffers says.

After the case, Stoffers came home to find a Longhorn employee, whom he says is Patrick, taking photographs in his driveway. He took out his camera again and the men got in another verbal spat. Watch here:

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43 comments
vivalarampage
vivalarampage

Homeboy should have knocked that bitch out cold and dragged his body from the back of his car.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

Longhorn Wrecker lost another tow hearing today behind their ongoing criminal behavior, although the Judge, Al Cercone proved what many knew since being elected in 1992.  His court in JP 3 is nothing more than a money making machine for towing companies.  In today trial, this moron judge issued a judgement, but judgement didn't go against Longhorn for the victim to collect her money, rather a nonexistent HOA, who didn't appear in Court. Those bribes disguised as campaign donations from Longhorn and other towing companies who direct victims to his court was clearly evident this morning.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

Investigators with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation have discovered Longhorn Wrecker did not have a valid towing contract with the current property manager.  The property manager also said Longhorn gave them parking permits, striped the so called fire lane and posted their towing signs without her permission.  The actions of Longhorn is theft pure and simple.  Longhorn has a whole lot of problems as more than 30 people have filed suit against them that were towed from other apartment complexes and townhomes will illegal towing signs posted. Their refusal to provide the name of the person who authorized the tow, refusal to show the TDLR VSF employee license and forcing to motorists to sign their paperwork before releasing the vehicle are all violations of State Law.  Longhorn's conduct will cost them over $25k in fines and possible suspension of their operating licenses.

tricken4u
tricken4u

the man recording calls him a nigger wtf he white.. fat bastard dont speak english..thats y his car is painted in house paint. hes white thrash look at them projects he resides in smh.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

it is legal to use force to protect yor property from theft or deadly force to protect your property from theft after dark in texas. if you don't have a chl, don't get caught with a handgun in the 'common area' (parking lot) of your apartment. if you simply infuriate the tow company, then sleep there with your car unguarded, expect to wake up and find it gone. even if you win in court, get your money back, you've still lost time, aggravation, a days work, possibly your job for missing work again over car towing....attorney's fees....amd that tow company asshole is gettin' paid to be a tow compny asshole. he isn't taking time off work to torment you apartment dwellers. it's his daily job.  the drivers are all broke, hungry, and fighting for a paycheck. my advice to you apartment dwellers is to(a)move (b)be very vigilant guarding your property within the law, or(c)pay the towtruck assholes to leave  you alone. 

gm0622
gm0622

I don't know about the impound regs in TX. But, up here in WA, a form has to be filled out by the manager or maintenance supervisor to remove a vehicle from the property. We ca not just issue a blank signed impound order.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Those videos are pretty damning. The dude filming them is obnoxious as all hell, but the tow guys never dispute his points.

Then again, everyone knows that most tow companies are a racket.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

What I cannot understand is why these guys don't get the proper signs.  Don't get me wrong, I think they are a bunch of scumbags.  But in this case, if the signs were correct, they would have probably won in court.

mcdallas
mcdallas

all this but we gotta shut down Uber??  nonsense!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I like how the owner of the tow company is illegally parked for the duration of the video, fucking dumbass

roo_ster
roo_ster

If you are going to take someone's stuff without their permission, you had best check twice, tow once, and be sure you are in the right. 

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

This has also happened at the Icon at Ross (Ross Ave and Hall) but with a company called United Tows. These people are out of control and they need to be stopped. 

Where is the City Manager and City of Dallas regulatory system when you actually need them? Sorry that we don't have deep pockets like Yellow Cab so we can pay the police chief and AC Gonzalez to do our bidding (i.e. their ACTUAL jobs).

frank711
frank711

My wife just recently got fired from longhorn. Office has no running water no elec. Only generator.its a scam taking something that belongs to you until you pay

ransom(fees).all the managers from properties got to be disciplined for accepting

kick backs from longhorn aswell,bunch of crooks.also you know its crooked when the real owner uses employee to get towing permit for Dallas,you would think it would be illegal.

ualani_makua
ualani_makua

@tricken4u ....yeah...but don't be so ignorant to think that those types of poor "project" conditions cant be placed upon YOU also...in life, we ALL could face the possibility of being subject to "project living.' The point is, when you work your fingers to the bone, pay bills, and are still broke, and wake up to find your car had been towed...when there was NO sign posted? No fair warning? And was NOT operating in compliance with State and Local Regulatory Guidelines, and utilize Deceptive Trade Practices to take advantage of innocent victims? Black or White...the word "Nigger" by definition...and how it was used in this context was very appropriate...quit dismissing the issue by using racial connotations to justify your warped logic! Just take a look at what you said; "Fat bastard dont speak english..." and " He white THRASH look at THEM projects he resides in smh" Really? I think what you meant to say...in English...was: "That fat bastard does not speak English, used residential-grade paint for his car, and is white trash that lives in the projects...who also... WON HIS CASE!!" Which would be proper "ENGLISH" for such an ignorant statement! Just one class at your local community college would help you tremendously in correcting and improving your written and spoken English communication skills on a very, VERY, standard and basic level.  If you're going to insult someone for being white trash, who does not speak proper English...at least know how to spell TRASH and make sure your ENGLISH is...at least SEMI-PERFECT!!!

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@tricken4u Him calling him a nigger is nothing compared to what is said to people trying to get there vehicle at the storage lot. Would you appreciate your wife being called a crack whore just because they are black, or what about the federal judge from Del Rio being asked what year did he swim the rio grande with wife in tow just because they were Hispanic. The public is verbally abused by these companies daily, but that is expected since 75% of the tow truck drivers and vehicle storage facility employees are convicted felons.  Many tow truck operators recently released from prison use their convict intimidation behavior to scam motorists daily when confronted.

ualani_makua
ualani_makua

@hilllbillle Yes...but they STILL have to operate, in compliance to State and Local  Regulatory Trade Practice Codes and Guidelines. Furthermore, because of the 2nd Amendment and Texas Constitutional Bill of Rights, article 1 (www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/CN/htm/CN.1.htm‎), Workers in the Tow Truck Industry, in TEXAS, should ask themselves the more important question..."is towing someones car, ILLEGALLY, worth the risk of getting shot?" And despite the lost time and aggravation it may cause to take a stand against criminals who operate illegally...does not justify the fact that damage is being done... and unless SOMEONE disputes the incident in court, unfortunately, the towing industry will continue to victimize innocent people...and believe it or not...consumers have rights too! And one of them, is to dispute any form of Illegal and deceptive trade practice that they experience from any public serving establishment. For more information on how to file an official complaint against any establishment, whom you believe, is operating in an illegal or deceptive fashion, visit https://www.oag.state.tx.us/


fracquestions
fracquestions

@hilllbillle If you catch them trying to illegally tow (steal) your car, then you do not need a CHL to use a firearm to prevent the theft.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@hilllbillle So (a) kick yourself out of your home, (b) shoot the bastards, or (c) pay exorbitant extortion fees?

Somehow none of those options seem particularly enticing if the alternative supposedly results in mere "lost time, aggravation, a days work."

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@gm0622 

That would seem like a step in the right direction - add another layer of accountability so that whomever it is at the apt. complex that authorizes the action has to put their name and the reason they want the vehicle towed on something that can then be held as a record of the action.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@Rumpunch1 the towing company can provide the towing sign, but if they install it, they have committed a violation of having a financial interest in the removal.  The reason they don't post legal signs is to confuse drivers.

fracquestions
fracquestions

@lakewoodhobo The City Manager and the City of Dallas are busy trying to persuade concerned citizens why it is a great idea to drill for natural gas right next to your bedroom, school, hospital, daycare center, nursing home, park (or IN your park), restaurant, workplace or other place where no drilling should ever be done. They don't have time for mundane matters like illegal towing company operations.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

the big tow companies also have plenty deep pockets. just like the cab companies, they've been 'contributing'  to your big brotherly officials  for a kazillion years.

wilme2
wilme2

@lakewoodhobo And yet we get people parked outside the ICON on Hall Street right under the city's no parking signs, and they don't get towed.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

Yea I was thinking the same thing.  IF the only penalty is having to refund the car then why not just take an aggressive approach to towing?  If you ilegally tow 10 cars a night at $168 and only 7 bother to fight the charge (or are able) then you've still walked away w/ $500 bucks.

There should be a multiplier penalty.  Something to the effect if the tow company loses they have to pay you 4 times the towing fee.

tricken4u
tricken4u

i say the video guy is a bitch in my mind he woodnt call a black man one lol u wood get smashe  i dont car bout towing i follow rules so if you respect their property rules just cause u live there dnt mean u own the parking lot u rent all u white trash

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

but you do need a chl to be in the 'common area'(parking lot) of your apartment.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

furthermore, if you 'shoot one of the bastards', remember that, without a chl, it is illegal to be in the common area(parking lot)  of your apartments with a handgun. so if you 'shoot one of the bastards' with no chl, you have very likely been caught in the common area of your apartments with ....what kind of gun? looks to me like parking in an apartment parking lot is a game that is rigged against you. i don't even want to come visit you, because your landlord might steal my car.

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

it would be illegal to 'shoot one of the bastards' in the daytime, likely resulting in imprisonment.  on the other hand, a good ol' country style ass whuppin'...might be legal. i ain't sayin' what's right or wrong. just sayin' how it is. if you work alone for free to fight a team of guys  that are gettin' paid to torment you, you're startin' from behind, right off the bat. you might reconsider spending your money in a place that invites asshole tow companies like that to torment you.

dsmithy3211
dsmithy3211

@pat.johnson @Rumpunch1 First, thanks for participating in this forum.

Re: the issue of proper signs. Your TTC blog shows dozens of signs that are not in compliance with Texas law. Most of those signs contain some variation of the required "Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed at Owner or Operator Expense" phrase. But the actual verbiage is so similar to the required phrase that I don't think it's causing much confusion. A "towing enforced" sign is a "towing enforced" sign to the average driver (or at least to me).

The Longhorn Wrecker sign is, of course, another matter altogether. It's clearly intended to be confusing. Grammatically, that sign is a train wreck. Not to mention it's quite funny (in a sad way): LW claims the right to tow you from reserved spaces ("No parking in ... assigned or reserved spaces.")... which of course could mean they could tow you from your very own reserved space. 

To me, it just looks like gross incompetence. If towing companies provided signs with the proper verbiage to lot owners, it sounds get they could get away with a lot more.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@dallas_dude If the towing sign lacks the required text, is missing, not placed within 25' of the street, the vehicle owner can collect $1000 plus three times the towing/storage fees.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I was thinking more like large fines or jail time. I would think intentionally towing a car without legal authority, eg, legal signage, would make the tower liable for punitive damages.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@tricken4u You don't seem to understand the issue, the signs used by Longhorn do not comply with State Law, that has already been proven in Court.  When there is no sign posted, it makes no difference why the vehicle was towed.


fracquestions
fracquestions

@hilllbillle Simply not true. The "Castle Law" says you can carry a firearm for person protection in your home or your car between your home and you place of employment or other places designated in the law. That means you can legally carry a firearm TO your car from your home, office or other legal place.

But, you are talking about handguns. Rifles and shotguns have no limitations like handguns. personally, I would prefer a shotgun as a way of stopping a theft of my vehicle.

You also have a right to defend your property. Carrying a firearm outside your domicile for the purpose of defending your property is NOT the same thing as just walking around carrying a handgun.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@dsmithy3211 @pat.johnson @Rumpunch1 there is only one layout of the towing sign, just like a layout for a stop sign.  If the required text in quotes or the wrong towing symbol, any tow would be illegal.  You cannot add words to a stop sign!

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@dsmithy3211 @pat.johnson @Rumpunch1 It's a criminal offense if the towing company installs the towing sign at the parking facility. According to State Law, the parking facility is required to provide written notice, they, the parking facility has installed legal signs prior to towing. Google search JC-0554 and you will better understand the intent to stop financial kickbacks to property managers.


pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@primi_timpano San Antonio and Austin law enforcement file Felony Theft, dollar value of the vehicle, if a vehicle is towed without probable cause. If every DFW area law enforcement would enforce the Texas Towing Law as written, alot of these towing scams would cease to exist.


Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @primi_timpano If you want this to stop, sue the apartment complex that allows the company to tow cars without the proper signs installed.

They are the ones giving the tow company permission to tow.

Once a few management companies and apartment owners get sued and lose, they'll do a little better job of contracting tow companies.

pat.johnson
pat.johnson

@everlastingphelps @primi_timpanothe lead attorney in the DFW region to recover from illegal towing is Chris Lampe at 817-704-3984. They will take your case on contingency if the sign lacks the language or the sign layout is wrong.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @primi_timpano If I were a lawyer, I might start offering to take up civil suits on commission for people.  This is obvious civil theft and conversion.  Might even be able to show gross negligence (since they do it over and over) and get punitive damages.

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