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Aldermen Pass Bill To Make Chicago's Insane Towing Companies Record Video

By Mae Rice in News on Jun 22, 2016 7:00PM

A Chicago car getting towed in a snowstorm (photo via Paul Kehrer on Flickr)

Updated 2:20 p.m.: The ordinance passed the City Council Wednesday afternoon unanimously.

Towing in Chicago is notoriously shady. Lincoln Park Towing is basically Voldemort and could lose its license any day now; United Road Towing was raided by the FBI but somehow still lands city contracts. A new ordinance, up for approval in City Council on Wednesday, aims to make towing in the City of Big Shoulders and Hella Rogue Tow Trucks a bit less rogue.

The ordinance, widely termed a "Towing Bill of Rights," has been spearheaded by Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th). Its goal is to "ensure that there is proper consumer protection" when it comes to towing, Pawar told the Tribune.

Under the ordinance, tow trucks would have to have video cameras (with audio) on their front and rear ends, documenting tows as they happen. The footage also have to be made available, for free, to the city and car owners. (This requirement piggybacks on an existing rule that tow trucks must photograph every tow, according to the Tribune.)

Towing companies would also have to give Chicago police a list of the parking lots they work with, specifying whether they tow from each lot on request or patrol it at their own discretion.

"Tow truck companies need to exist," Pawar told the Sun-Times. "They just need to learn how to behave."

This is likely an allusion to consumer claims that Lincoln Park Towing employees lie, drive unsafely, and once knocked a guy off a 16-foot ladder, breaking his leg. Many of these complaints are documented in a petition to suspend Lincoln Park Towing's license, which has 3,000+ signatures.