Mount Vernon — After numerous complaints of residents almost being taken for a ride from an illegal towing operation, Councilman André Wallace invited Black Westchester to accompany him in an investigative sting operation in the Food Bazaar parking lot. In the three-day sting, Wallace and BW spent several hours at various times to attempt to catch the tow truck company in the act.
The newly sworn-in councilman had decided to begin this investigation to see if claims of the illegal towing scam were true. As Editor-In-Chief of BW, I have also received several calls including one young lady who claims to have been charge $100 dollar from Borderline Towing. When she came out from food shopping, according to the young lady, who will be making an official statement next week at City Hall, the tow truck driver claimed he watched her walk out the parking lot toward Third Street, despite the fact, she had just come out the supermarket pushing a full shopping cart of groceries.
While in Mt. Calvary CME Church last Sunday, January 10th, where former Mayor Ernest Davis was being honored, BW witnessed Rev. Wheeler, allowed a male member of his congregation to alert members of the church, that he was a victim of an illegal towing scam. The gentleman praised City Clerk George Brown for coming to his rescue, forcing the tow truck driver to release the vehicle. While sitting in the January 13th City Council Meeting, BW witnessed two more complaints of illegal towing activity, which lead BW to do an investigation. We reached out to Councilman Wallace, who then informed us that he was already investigating the matter and invited BW for a joint investigation.
Councilman Wallace and BW spent several hours a day, over the course of three days, and finally on Saturday, approximately 4:12 p.m., we viewed Borderline Towing & Recovery watching a customer park his car. After the owner of the vehicle walked away, we witnessed the towing company lifting the man’s car and waiting for approximately 32 minutes for the customer to return to car so he could illegally charge him.
Upon returning, the owner was then asked for $125 to lower the vehicle, when Councilman Wallace walked up to the tow truck driver and introduced himself. The driver informed the councilman he had permission to tow in the Food Bazaar lot and then put Wallace on the phone with his boss. When Wallace told the driver is was illegal to charge more than $65, he then requested a payment of $60 dollars to released the car and Councilman Wallace made the tow truck driver give the owner a receipt.
Councilman Wallace took the drivers information and told the driver to let his boss know he would he hearing from him. Toward the end of the ordeal, City Clerk George Brown approaches to see what is going on and witnessed the shakedown. Brown, who had also received several complaints from residents, had also been making periodic passes through the supermarket parking lot in his day-to-day driving to see if he noticed any illegal towing activity. It was Brown who first became aware of this illegal towing scam and brought it to the councilman’s attention, which lead to Wallace’s investigation. Both Wallace and Brown invited the car owner to come to City Hall next week and make a formal statement and vowed to follow-up with him.
George Brown explained while Borderline was authorized to tow in Mount Vernon, however they were not authorized to tow in the Food Bazaar Supermarket parking lot. “I can tell you they have no permit to tow in this lot because that comes from my office and I didn’t issue one to this company,” Brown tell BW.
Borderline Towing & Recovery, located at 155 S. 13th Ave, has allegedly been running this illegal cash operation for a while. From reports received it appears to be as profitable as selling drug or prostitution, as they pimp the community. Borderline comes through the lot, selecting unexpecting vehicles and wait for the driver to leave his or her car. Once the owner leaves the vehicle the tow truck driver raise the vehicle and sit and wait for the driver to return demanding $100-$125 or whatever the driver has, as low as $30-$40 dollars cash, to release the vehicle. The tow truck driver lower and release the vehicle, take the money and run.
Proper procedures for towing illegally parked cars is to take them to the MVPD and register the car with the station. The police check out the car and the towing company can now takes the vehicle to their lot or garage. The maximum charge for being towed is $65 plus you might be required to pay a $10 daily storage fee for each additional day.
“We can’t have businesses taking advantage of our citizens of Mt. Vernon,” Wallace tells BW. “As a councilman, our job is to protect the interest of our taxpayers and right any wrongdoings.”
Borderline Towing & Recovery could not be reached for comment, Saturday.
If you have been a victim of this towing scam, Wallace urges you to contact the City Clerk’s office at (914) 665-2352. Do not get into a physical confrontation with the tow truck driver, pay the fee and make sure he gives you receipt and then report it to the city clerk’s office.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more investigative reports in 2016. If you would like to contact us with tips regarding issues in your community, email us at BlackWestchesterMag@gmail.com.