A resident of a Virginia apartment complex is protesting the practices of one of Northern Virginia’s major tow companies.
Orlando Lopez recorded video of a tow in late June in which a tow operator hauled away an Amazon delivery van, which appeared to be stopped for a package delivery.
The video shows the delivery van stopped with its hazard lights flashing at the East Falls Apartment complex in Seven Corners near the Fairfax County-Arlington County border. As the van is stopped, a delivery man in an orange vest walks toward an apartment with a package in his hand. The video shows at least two tow trucks and three workers from Advanced Towing in Arlington in the lot attempting to tow a small truck.
After the delivery man walks off the lot toward an apartment, the video shows the tow truck workers scurry to lift and haul away the Amazon van. The sequence took approximately one minute.
The delivery driver is shown walking back to find an empty space where his van was originally parked.
“It all happened so quick,” said Lopez, who said he was towed by Advanced on his first day at the apartment complex, while emptying boxes from his truck.
About the delivery van, Lopez said, “One of the workers was saying ‘Go, go, go.’ People were just stunned that they would actually do that to a delivery guy.”
Advanced Towing’s owner said the tow was lawful and justified. He said tow truck workers warned the Amazon driver not to leave his van behind. The owner said the delivery driver ignored the warnings.
Advanced Towing declined an on-camera interview with I-Team, opting to instead send a written statement.
“Annual data reports reflect non-consensual towing complaints are very low compared to the number of tows performed measuring about half a percent or less annually,” the company said. “Towing occurs without the consent of parking violators hence a certain number of complaints are expected.”
Though the type of trespass towing shown in the video is legal in Fairfax County, it is not legal in nearby Montgomery County, which has towing regulations requiring tow companies first receive a complaint before removing a vehicle.
“It appears from the video that it was private property,” Fairfax County Consumer Services Division Director Rebecca Makely said. “There were two tow trucks in the video, and they did tow a commercial vehicle that appeared to be doubled parked.”
The I-Team is awaiting comment from the owner of the apartment complex.
Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot by Jeff Piper and Steve Jones, and edited by Jeff Piper.
Correction (July 17, 2019, 6:59 a.m.): This article has been updated to accurately reflect some D.C.-area towing laws.