CHICAGO — An author who said Lincoln Towing Service illegally grabbed her car while she celebrated the publication of her book got her money back — all $218 — from the notorious company.
Cheryl Reed, a former Chicago journalist who is now a professor at Syracuse University in New York, celebrated the launch of her debut novel, "Poison Girls," at Women and Children First bookstore, 5233 N. Clark St., on Sept. 15 with a reading and reception.
After the party ended around 11:30 p.m., Reed and her husband went to retrieve their car from the lot behind the bookstore where owner Sarah Hollenbeck told them to park.
But their car was gone — and Reed said she quickly realized that it had been grabbed by the firm immortalized by songwriter Steve Goodman as the "Lincoln Park Pirates" in the 1970s.
Attorney Allen Perl, who represents Lincoln Towing, which is owned by Protective Parking Service Corp., said the firm refunded Reed's $218 charge because it got "tired of the complaints" as well as news coverage.
Perl said the company was acting within the authority granted to it by the property owner to tow the car because it was after 11 p.m. Reed disputes that, saying she has seen a contract signed by the property owner more recently that allows the firm to tow cars from the bookstore's lot after 1 a.m.
"Although in this particular case we decided to refund the charge, we did nothing wrong," Perl said.
Reed said she is relieved to have her money back, but frustrated that it took the better part of a month to resolve the dispute.
"By giving me my money back, in my mind, they are acknowledging that they would lose in court," Reed said. "They had a poor case, and they knew it."
State regulators are weighing whether to yank Lincoln Towing Service's license — claiming the firm frequently moved cars without authorization, among other violations.
Administrative Law Judge Latrice Kirkland-Montaque could recommend to the Illinois Commerce Commission board that the license of the company be revoked after a lengthy hearing process concludes. No date for the next hearing in the case has been set, Perl said.