Hispanics become the victims of excessive towing costs for parking at a private parking lot at 1247 S. César E. Chávez Drive.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
March 20, 2015
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Hundreds of Latinos in a weekly basis are subject to excessive towing costs for parking at a private lot located at 1247 S. César E. Chávez Drive. The private towing company is ABYSS Towing, which has a look out spotter parked on the street from Monday to Saturday and keeps an eye on who parks in the lot and goes somewhere else to shop. Once the spotter can confirm the victim is not doing business with the businesses that allow parking for their customers, then a tow truck is alerted and it comes to tow the vehicle within minutes.
Sometimes a flatbed tow truck is used, in that case, they tow one vehicle at a time and then park it a couple of blocks away. Once three vehicles are secured for towing, they are all towed at the same time.
If a victim can catch the tow truck driver at the scene and doesn’t want the vehicle towed, the victim has to pay $200 cash, no receipt is given by the tow truck driver (a bribe?). If the tow truck gets to take the vehicle to a private tow lot, the victim will most likely have to pay between $150, $180, $250 and the latest is up to $350, not including storage costs.
On Friday, Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) video recorded a towing. HNNUSA broke the story back in December.
ABYSS Towing has to contact the City of Milwaukee Parking Enforcement (CMPE) to report that the vehicle is being towed and before they remove it from the parking lot, the CMPE has to confirm it is not stolen.
HNNUSA attempted to speak to the tow truck driver to see how much it would cost to get a car released from their private holding lot for towed vehicles. The driver wouldn’t respond or say anything.
Victims who call the CMPE to locate their vehicles are than told, which private towing contractor has taken it.
When victims go to the ABYSS Towing lot, they are lucky if they do get a receipt for cash payment to release their vehicle, according to some of the victims. Another victim had taken video and photos of the ABYSS Towing when she picked up her vehicle, but the management took her cell phone and deleted the video and photos. The victim did not reported the incident to police, according to another victim as well.
ABYSS Towing began its operation around December and is making thousands of dollar per week. In a regular day of towing, ABYSS Towing can clear more than $6,000 for towing at least 20 vehicles at $300 to $350 each. Some are calling the Chávez Drive parking lot a gold mine and others call it a scam, especially if victims are not provided receipts after paying cash for the excessive towing penalty.
Not one business in that same 1200 block of S. Chávez Drive makes more than $6K per day, except ABYSS Towing.
The private parking lot at 1247 S. Chávez Drive has posted signs at the entrance, but the towing warning are so small that if you blink while going into the lot, you will miss it. There are two signs posted on the side of the cell phone store building wall facing the lot warning people that the parking spaces are for customers visiting three businesses in the block. If they park, they will be towed, but both outside wall signs are in English.
ABYSS Towing must be making a killing with the contract, which HNNUSA has noticed that they even got a new tow truck.
HNNUSA is investigating whether ABYSS Towing has taken ownership of titles for vehicles that victims can’t afford to pay the excessive penalty for towing and storage fees in order to get their vehicles returned.
One thing for sure, the City of Milwaukee is not getting a cut of the towing profits, because vehicles towed from private property are not cited first by parking enforcement or police before being towed.
ABYSS Towing could not be reached for comment.
A state law (2013 WI ACT 76) that took effect last October allows anyone to tow a vehicle without being bonded or licensed creating a scamming operation for profits. The new towing law allows private property owners to have vehicles towed from their properties or leased parking lots. But private towing businesses are over charging illegally to tow vehicles, accept cash payments and don’t provide receipts to victims whose vehicles have been towed. Victims paying cash and getting no receipts for vehicles towed indicates private towing businesses are most likely cheating the state from paying taxes.
Fox 6 Now news reported that, under the new towing law, private towing companies are required to charge a maximum of $105 per regular tow and $20 per day for storage, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT). The ABYSS Towing charges three times more for towing than the WISDOT requirement.
State towing law at link (PDF): http://bit.ly/1G0dAJ5
It’s cheaper to get towed by the City from the street, including storage compared to
ABYSS Towing, a private contractor getting towed from a private property. Checkout what the City of Milwaukee charges for towing, according to their Web site.
● The towing fee is $105.00
● The flatbed towing fee is $125.00, when a flatbed tow is required
●The relocation moving fee is $25.00 for uninsured drivers
●The outdoor vehicle storage fee is $20.00/calendar day
●The indoor vehicle storage fee is $30.00/calendar day
Video: ABYSS Towing autos from S. Chávez Dr. in Milwaukee: https://youtu.be/J5hwpgvjEHo