UPTOWN — A petition to suspend the business license of Lincoln Towing addressed to Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) garnered almost 700 signatures in less than 48 hours.
The petition references Lincoln Towing's "increasing allegations of illegal removal of the cars of private citizens from their own property, as well as from private properties" where they don't have authority to tow.
On Friday, a family claimed Lincoln Towing improperly towed their family car from a spot behind their apartment in the 4100 block of North California Avenue where it has been parked since September. The towing company, 4882 N. Clark St., told the family that the car had been parked in a lot two buildings down, and the vehicle wasn't authorized to be there. But the family argued that wasn't true, refused to pay to have the car returned and reached out to Pawar.
Lincoln Towing returned the car Tuesday, telling the car's owner in an email that the tow truck driver was "new to this type of towing and has been licensed for less than 1 year."
The petition charges that Lincoln Towing's drivers "have been cited by the Chicago Police Department for unsafe driving, and several citizens in neighboring areas have witnessed the company's trucks speeding down side streets, running through stop signs with cars in tow" and that "the company is now subject to a mounting class action suit for its alleged illegal activities."
Lincoln Towing declined to comment on the petition.
The towing company has been in hot water for nabbing a state child welfare worker's car from a lot near a police station while the worker was inside on business, among other offenses. Pawar has been vocal about his disapproval of the towing company, which he has called a "bad operator" threatening to seize Lincoln Towing's yard at 4882 N. Clark St. for redevelopment.
Pawar said Wednesday he has been "planning on doing something since late last fall, but the budget took precedent." Another problem is that towing licenses are provided by the county or state, instead of the city of Chicago, limiting his reach.
One thing he has been considering is bringing back city towing licenses, he said. He's also talked with other towing companies about establishing a bill of rights for consumers to establish "a basic level of customer service."
Basil Diab, who started the petition, said his car was legally towed by the company back in 1995. The petition was not because of that experience but "for my fellow residents who have been victimized.
"I have always been familiar with the tactics of Lincoln Towing Company both through news reports and individual testimony... A business operating with just a fraction of these allegations would have been swiftly brought to justice. But one that has operated for decades with no impunity is reprehensible," he said.
The petition asked the Chicago City Council and Pawar "to immediately suspend Lincoln Towing's business license until a satisfactory operational audit clears it of all allegations and it is found to be operating with acceptable standards, practices and ethics."
The petition adds, "The city's residents should benefit from the local businesses, not live in fear of illegal, costly, and dangerous predatory tactics."
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