Mayor Calls For Investigation In Texas-OU Towing

Dozens of cars towed after drivers waved into parking lot

<i>Correction: Previously, reported that Dallas City Council Member Mitchell Rasansky owned a parking lot near the Texas State Fair.  That is not true. regrets the error.</i>

On Wednesday, the mayor of Dallas called for an investigation into the towing of dozens of cars during Texas-OU weekend.

Dozens of Texas and OU fans claimed they were waved into a parking lot near the State Fair of Texas grounds that did not have warning signs on Saturday. They returned after the game to find that "no parking" signs had been posted, and their cars had been towed, the fans said.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert sent a memo to the City Council calling for a full investigation into the towing. He said he wants to "ensure that visitors and citizens are not abused in the future by renegade towing companies."

City and state investigators went to Lone Star Auto on Tuesday to look into allegations of illegal towing during Saturday's game. The Dallas towing company already has 44 cases against it pending in court.

At the Lone Star Storage yard, investigators found more unhappy customers Monday including truck driver Alvin Williams, who had been battling with the Lone Star Auto about the towing of his big rig, said he was happy to see the investigators.

"Words can't even explain. It's costing me $1,200 to get my rig out, and I didn't even park illegally," Williams said.

Avi Adelman said there are similar issues with other lots. He lives across the street from a Greenville Avenue Blockbuster store, and he said there were similar problems with the same towing company at the store's parking lot months ago.

City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky owns the property the Blockbuster Video is located on. Rasansky and the store both said they never authorized Lone Star to tow from the parking lot. Rasansky had nothing to do with Saturday's towing.

"My records show 360 cars were towed off of this lot over an 18-month period, and probably every one of them had that illegal $50 fee on it," Adelman said.

The fee Adelman is referring to is a what Lone Star has described as a "governmental entity fee," which city lawyers say is not permitted.

City lawyers are investigating whether some of the people who were towed were charged more than city allows.

"Right now, we are just doing our best to determine what happened, what these people were charged, whether there were signs there that were posted and were they (there) 24 hours in advance," said Chris Bowers, assistant city attorney.

Lone Star Auto said it had the property owner's permission to tow on Saturday and denies any willful wrongdoing. A lawyer for Lone Star Auto said the company has explanations for everything and will grant refunds if there were mistakes.

On Tuesday, the city issued tickets to some Lone Star tow truck drivers.

With the aid of inspectors, Williams said he was able to remove his big rig without paying any charges.

City officials said they suspect more unhappy customers may not have filled out complaints against the company.

To make a complaint to the City of Dallas about a tow, a person should call 214-670-3358. To make a complaint about excessive storage lot fees, contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation at  800-803-9202.

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