MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A day after a Memphis City Council member said they were addressing the questionable practices of A1’s Towing and Hauling, a Florida truck driver said the wrecker company illegally took his 18-wheeler from a truck stop on Lamar Avenue.
Jaleel Shaw, the owner of S-Greenlight Trucking, said the rain and fog forced him off the road, and he parked at an unmanned truck stop Wednesday. Shaw said he didn’t see the pay-to-park signs, and someone booted his truck in the middle of the night.
Jaleel Shaw’s truck
Shaw said he was told he had 10 or 15 minutes to pay a $400 boot removal fee or the truck would be towed.
Driver locks herself in truck to keep it from A1’s Towing
“I was trying to pay. It wouldn’t accept the payment and they wouldn’t accept cash,” said Shaw. “They outnumbered me, bullied me.”
Shaw said several armed men with A1’s Towing showed up, and so did Memphis Police, who made things worse. He said the officers told him if he cut off the boot, he would be charged with vandalism. Shaw said a sergeant also came to the gas station and said that was not the case because this was a civil matter.
Shaw said while he was talking to police, an A1’s driver jumped into his truck and they towed it away. He had to pay nearly $2,700 to get it back.
A1’s attorney claims Shaw gave them permission to tow his truck and provided a signed release.
Shaw said it was signed under duress. He said once the police left, they forced him away from his truck, took his keys, and he signed it because he was surrounded.
“What they are doing is using intimidation tactics, This is racketeering, almost,” said Shaw. “I understand there is stuff going on with the city, but they’re not following the city ordinances.”
According to the Memphis booting ordinance, the maximum amount a booting company can charge is $50, the owner/operator of the vehicle has 24 hours to pay the booting fee, and the maximum towing fee allowed for a vehicle over 25 feet is now $505.
City investigating A1’s Towing after truck drivers file complaints
Attorneys for A1’s have told WREG they follow state law, which supersedes city law.
But this week, City Councilman Ford Canale said the laws mirror each other and A1’s has violated local and state booting and towing ordinances.
In November, the city’s transportation committee suspended A1’s booting and towing license for 30 days.
The Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board also suspended A1’s license in their state for 60 days after several truck drivers said they had been illegally booted and towed from the same truck stop in West Memphis.
“They were preying on individuals and trying to collect exorbitant rates that were unlawful,” said Canale.
City leaders want set of rules after A1’s Towing complaints
Canale is asking the city’s permits office to describe in detail the procedures and standards for wreckers and tow operators so they can be posted online. He also wants tow truck companies to know they could lose their license if they don’t follow the law.
“We will take swift action through the permits office,” Canale said.
‘This is horrible what they are doing to the industry:’ More A1’s Towing complaints as THP gets involved
In the fall, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security said THP’s Criminal Investigations Division was providing assistance upon request as Memphis Police look into A1’s activities but didn’t go into specifics. Memphis Police have not commented on the investigation.
The Memphis permits office said there are currently no open investigations on A1’s. The permits office will present a list of rules and regulations for tow truck drivers to City Council on Feb. 6.
“They are messing with interstate commerce’: Trucking company gets $12k A1’s tow bill
At least one trucking company has threatened to sue A1’s after several of their trucks were towed by the company from Memphis truck stops.