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Towing company forced to refund thousands to valley motorists

Darcy Spears

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Photo: Video by ktnv.com

Towing company forced to refund thousands to valley motorists

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Jan 14, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A Contact 13 investigation gets action from the state and thousands of dollars in refunds for valley motorists whose cars were towed from a Las Vegas Strip parking lot.

As Chief Investigator Darcy Spears explains, now it's The Tow Truck Company who's paying the price.

Toni Jo Wilgar said, "They're totally a ripoff. They're a scam. And they're stealing people's money."

"I was so pissed. They didn't tow my car, in my mind, they stole my car," Michael Pierce added.

There's no actual stealing going on, but it might feel like you're the victim of theft when, "I came out. My car was gone," said Pierce.

"12:30 a.m. in the morning, my car was gone," said Wilgar.

Peppermill patrons Toni Jo Wilgar and Michael Pierce told Contact 13 similar stories for a report that first aired in December.

In addition to their cars, our camera caught half a dozen others being towed in just over one hour on a Friday night.

During the course of our investigation, the Nevada Transportation Authority issued multiple citations to The Tow Truck Company for failing to have proper signs at the parking lot adjacent to the Peppermill.

"Things that read AUTHORIZED PARKING ONLY is not specific enough. It needs to say who is authorized or who is not authorized," said NTA Commissioner Monica Metz.

We brought customer complaints and the state's concerns to James Grindstaff with Triple 5 Development, who owns the lot.

"What's going on here?" Darcy Spears asked Grindstaff in December.

"Well from our perspective we're just maintaining the integrity of our lot," Grindstaff answered.

But after talking with us, he decided to suspend all towing activity.

"Because at the end of the day, if it was me, I wouldn't be happy either, Darcy."

The NTA wasn't happy with what they discovered.

Since our story aired, the state required The Tow Truck Company to refund nine drivers more than $2400.00.

NTA Chairman Andy MacKay sent a statement, saying, "It is possible that the NTA would not have been able to assist those persons who were towed, if it weren't for KTNV bringing this matter to our attention.  As a result of your efforts, refunds have been issued and vehicle owners have been made aware that an agency exists to protect them against unlawful/rogue towing."

"After seeing your report it really brought to light the need for some vindication for the folks who have had their cars towed from that lot," said Attorney Justin Jones, who filed a class action lawsuit after our December story aired.

The amended complaint, filed Tuesday, expanded the case, adding seven to eight plaintiffs (including Toni Jo Wilgar) and two other tow truck operators.

James Grindstaff wasn't available to go on camera, but told Contact 13 over the phone that Triple 5 only ever intended to do things above board. 

The Tow Truck Company did not return multiple calls for comment.

if you believe you've been the victim of an unlawful tow anywhere in the valley, we want to hear from you. Send us an email to 13investigates@ktnv.com.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.