Monday, January 22, 2018

Regulator's "Trial" Of Lincoln Towing Gets Underway

Tow them away
We plunder the streets of your town
Be it Edsel or Chevy there's no car too heavy
And no one can make us shut down

                                 — Lincoln Park Pirates, Steve Goodman
Image: DNAInfo
Nearly two years after state regulators first announced that they would investigate Lincoln Towing’s worthiness to hold a state license, the process entered its evidentiary hearing phase last week. An evidentiary hearing is the equivalent of a trial in an administrative case.

Meanwhile, Chicagoans continue to voice complaints about being illegally towed and bad-mouthed by the company’s employees. It’s a familiar tale on Chicago’s North Side where Lincoln’s infamous black tow trucks have been the bane of urban life since Steve Goodman memorialized the company’s tactics in the 1972 song Lincoln Park Pirates.

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With little fanfare, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) launched evidentiary hearings in the case last Tuesday inside a sleepy 8th-floor office at 160 North LaSalle.

When the ICC announced its probe into the company in February 2016, it said that its police investigators had handled 166 complaints against Lincoln Towing in the previous six months.

And if recently-posted online anecdotes are any indication, the commission has undoubtedly handled many more complaints since.

Earlier this month, a North Side resident shared her tale of allegedly having her car illegally towed from her private parking space by Lincoln. We are withholding the woman’s name because her story was shared in a private chat group.

“To say that these people are the most awful people to deal with is an understatement,” she fumed.

After confirming with her building’s management that Lincoln was not licensed to tow from her residential lot, the woman called Lincoln. “They basically said that I’m mistaken and hung up on me,” she said.

Only when the woman demanded that the company provide photographic evidence of their story did the company relent.

Under a 2016 city ordinance, private tow companies must shoot video that establishes the circumstances of each tow.

As CWBChicago previously reported, Lincoln crews were accused of hauling away an Uptown family’s U-Haul and personal car on moving day late last month.

Only after the family filed a stolen vehicle report did they realize what happened. Police were called again and a responding officer confirmed that the company “illegally took two of their cars.”

With the assistance of the officer and sergeant, the family recovered their vehicles from Lincoln without charge.

The next ICC hearing dates are:
January 25, 2018 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
January 30, 2018 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
January 31, 2018 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
February 1, 2018 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
February 13, 2018 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
February 14, 2018 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Towing complaints can be filed with the ICC Police at 1-847-294-4326 or by mailing this form (PDF).
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