Officials ask for help in finding possible predatory tow companies in South Lake Tahoe |

Officials ask for help in finding possible predatory tow companies in South Lake Tahoe

A tow truck towing a car in winter.
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APPLICABLE LAWS INCLUDE: Vehicle Code § 22658 applies to private property tows
  • Legal signs must be posted at entrances to the parking lot;
  • Upon request by owner or owner’s agent, the vehicle must be immediately released to owner if it is not yet removed from the property; however, the tow company may charge up to half of the tow fee in cases where the vehicle is already coupled to the tow truck;
  • If released to the owner within 24 hours, the tow company can only charge for one day of storage regardless of the calendar date;
  • Limits storage fees to days for which the tow company is open for at least 8 hours during normal business hours.
  Vehicle Code § 22953 limits private property tows from parking lots
  • Cannot tow a vehicle within one hour of it being parked in a free lot;
  • However, it can be towed immediately if: o It is within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, in fire lane, interfering with entrance/exit, or if it is in a space designated for a disabled person; or o It is parked in designated parking for residential property or parked on hotel or motel property where stalls are clearly marked for a specific room

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Local officials are seeking information on tow companies that may be defrauding customers.

The South Lake Tahoe Police Department has received informal complaints from the public about possible illegal tow practices, according to a city press release.

These complaints involve cars that were towed from the private parking areas near Heavenly Village.

The SLTPD and El Dorado County District Attorney, Vern Pierson, are investigating whether illegal and improper predatory business practices have occurred, said the release.

The complaints involve a tow company improperly holding stored vehicles longer than necessary, thereby adding extra storage fees by not being available during business hours to return the vehicle; and imposing unreasonable release requirements (such as requiring the personal appearance of the registered owner when other legal vehicle release options exist).

A scam may also include towing vehicles from private parking lots before the vehicle has remained parked for more than one hour.

The city is asking for anyone that feels they are victims of a predatory tow company in South Lake Tahoe to email their stories to

The information may go to proving illegal business practices and the company, or companies, may be held civilly or criminally responsible.

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