Predatory towing pervades Broadway

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Drivers, beware: towing companies are aggressively removing vehicles at parking lots along Broadway.

At least one mall, the recently opened Riverdale Crossing at Broadway and West 238th Street, even appears to have employees charged with spotting cars violating the rules. They call up tow companies, who then remove the vehicles within minutes.

Drivers and critics say that approach — illegal elsewhere in the country — takes things too far.

On the afternoon of June 4, Shaneequa Armstrong parked at Riverdale Crossing to place an order at Buffalo Wild Wings. She said while waiting for her food, she left her car in the Riverdale Crossing lot, which was about three quarters full, and went to the Rite Aid across the street left. She came back to find her black Hyundai SUV hooked to a truck run by All Boro Towing.

“I’m told 10 to 15 minutes for my order to be ready,” fumed Ms. Armstrong, 38. “I go to Rite Aid, I come back, and they’re towing my freaking car. When I think back, they were standing here, waiting: waiting for me to leave so they can tow my car and then charge me $136.”

“I’m beyond right now,” she said after paying the tow truck to let her car off the hook. “I’m never coming back to this mall again.”

Helga Abel had a similar experience in the Staples parking lot at 5680 Broadway on May 27. After shopping at the supply store, she went across the street to buy groceries at Garden Gourmet. When she came out about 20 minutes later, she saw a truck from J&S Towing readying to take her gray 2012 Toyota Corolla away.

“It’s all about sticking it to the consumer,” Ms. Abel, 86 said as she frowned at a receipt for the $141 she had to pay to prevent her car from being towed.

After that encounter, the tow truck driver moved back into the lot, which was just over half full, and quickly hooked another vehicle.

Drivers helpless

While other states, like Maryland, have laws against the practice of “spotting” — in which workers camp out to call tow companies on errant drivers — there is no legislation in the works to deal with the problem here.

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