Towing company charges theft victim $1,242 to get his car back

Towing company charges theft victim $1,242 to get his car back
SEATTLE -- A Seattle man thought he was in luck when his stolen car resurfaced, but that was before he realized a towing company was charging him more than $1,200 to reclaim his property.

Jonathan Walczak's car was recently stolen from outside his Seattle apartment. The thief dumped the car in Queen Anne, and after a day of taking up a parking space, a business owner called TBT Towing to have the car hauled away.

The tow company said Walczak's registration is out of date, which made him tough to reach. So the Subaru sat in the tow lot until the fees reaching $1,242.

"Jon's big mistake, had he registered the car in Washington state like he should have, he would have been notified, he would have gotten the letter the next day," said Rick Woodrow of TBT Towing.

As it stands now, tow truck operators can set any rates they choose when hauling vehicles off private property. TBT sets its maximum rate at $600 an hour.

State. Rep. Gerry Pollet authored a bill to cap rates at $238 an hour for the typical tow, but the bill hasn't yet made it to the Senate floor.

"I view it as another government intrusion into business, which Seattle is becoming famous for," Woodrow said of the proposed bill.

Woodrow said his business is expensive and he has to pay for everything from insurance costs to upkeep to fuel prices and driver safety.

Walczak isn't buying it.

"To essentially tow it three miles, let it sit in an empty spot in a parking lot for a week and then I come down as a crime victim and you are going to charge me $1,300 and make a quick buck off me and expect me not to fight back, I don't think that's fair," he said.

Walczak also believes Seattle police took too long to notify him.