Chicago towing company accused of cashing in on residents

By Kevin Beese For Chronicle Media


Allen Perl, attorney for Lincoln Towing, talks before a City Council committee regarding his client’s towing practices. (Photo by Kevin Beese/For Chronicle Media)

Allen Perl, attorney for Lincoln Towing, talks before a City Council committee regarding his client’s towing practices. (Photo by Kevin Beese/For Chronicle Media)


To me way, hey
Tow them away,
The Lincoln Park Pirates are we,
From Wilmette to Gary
There’s nothing so harried,
We always collect our fee.

— Lyrics to Steve Goodman’s song “Lincoln Park Pirates”

Although Steve Goodman’s song about Lincoln Towing was written more than 40 years, some Chicago residents and aldermen say its message rings as true today as when Goodman released it in 1972.

William Rankin owns a commercial building on North Pulaski Road and let an elderly neighbor, who is going through cancer treatment, park in his lot to avoid having to move his car to meet street sign regulations. He also let two workers from a nearby barbecue restaurant park in his lot.

Rankin said Lincoln Towing took all three cars from his lot without his permission.

“It is difficult to control my anger,” Rankin said Tuesday before a Chicago City Council committee hearing on regulating tow companies. “Lincoln Towing doesn’t give a damn if the council has ordinances. They are going to tow people anyway. It is not going to bother them. They don’t give a damn about Chicago or your ordinances.”

Rankin said it cost $200 for each vehicle to be removed from Lincoln’s impound yard, a total of $600. He covered the costs, noting none of the individuals could afford that expense.

“For those two kids, that $200 is a week’s salary,” Rankin said.

Rankin said he is still fighting Lincoln Towing for reimbursement of that $600 he paid the firm more than a year ago. He said that he had Lincoln as his tow company at one time, but has not used the firm since seeing its business practices.

Ameya Pawar, alderman of the 47th Ward, said the amount of towing issues that Chicago police have to deal with is unbelievable. He said that in the 20th District alone, 600 police man-hours — nearly one-quarter of one officers’ time for the year — were spent on towing matters in 2015.

“That is time they are not on the street, time they are not on patrol,” Pawar said.

Pawar, whose Uptown ward includes Lincoln Towing, said he wants to have a city audit done to examine if the towing firm is following city protocol and documenting all towing cases with photographic evidence.

He said residents of his ward continually have issues with the towing company.

“I think it is a bad operation,” said Pawar, who is working on a Towing Bill of Rights to help residents from being targets of illegal tows and to know their rights, such as being able to get baby seats from the vehicle, anytime they have been towed.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has opened up an investigation of Lincoln Towing, also called Protective Parking Service Corp. Since July, ICC police have opened 166 investigations into Lincoln’s towing operation. Of those investigations, 47 were closed, 28 resulted in the issuance of a violation and seven were closed as a result of the company resolving the matter with the motorist. There are 92 citations against the company still pending.

Allen Perl, lawyer for Lincoln Towing, said the company’s current owner, whom he declined to identify, has been in charge of the firm since 1993. He said Tuesday’s hearing was the first he had ever heard from aldermen that they had a problem with the company.

“No one has called me in over 20 years,” Perl said.

He said any business is going to get complaints, noting that the 92 pending complaints is only 0.4 percent of the company’s towing work for a year.

“Most of our tows are legal tows. We have a proven practice,” Perl said.





— Chicago towing company accused of cashing in on residents —