Car being towed-Car theft?

I would like to know how a tow truck can legally move your car, takeit to their lot and charge you money, even if you were illegally parked somewhere, unless a member of law enforcemnet authorizes it.

I have had my car towed by mall security for parking in a no parking place. There is a rant here on the board about a woman and her neighbor, where the neighbor had her car towed for parking in her space.

My question is, what right does a tow truck outfit have to tow my car, then charge me money to retrieve my own property? I believe that unless law enforcement allows the tow, it is car theft, plain and simple.

Please explain the law to me.


It costs money to tow your car, it costs money to store it, it costs money to retrieve it for you. Now who should pay?
What do you really think “NO PARKING” means?

If you can find one of those “No Parking” signs, you may see something like:

Violators will be towed in accodance with (Your State) ordinance 49:325:B blah blah blah…

So it’d probably be that ordinance.

if someone tries to repo your car, it is legal to kill them. I hear they’re working on phone solicitors…

If you leave your 2000 lb anvil on my property and I can’t find you to remove it, I should have the right to move it off my property to a safe holding area where you can retreive it. It’s going to cost money to move it and to store it, it’s only fair that you should pony up the money for those fees.

Where do they get their authority? Good ol’private property rights. Someone leaves their property on your front lawn, you’ve got the right to remove it without calling the cops, right?

The law will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but their authority to do so comes from their ownership of the land that is being parked on.

Take the example of a shopping mall. All of the parking area is normally private property, owned by the mall. The owner of the land, the mall, is willing to let people come onto its property and park their cars there, provided people follow the rules that the property owner has established. If someone disobeys those rules and parks in an area designated as no-parking, the property owner normally has the right to do something about it. At common law, parking the car in that way may well be a trespass.

The exact power that the property owner may have will depend on the jurisdiction, but the general rule at common law was that the property owner could remove other people’s property from his/her land. If the property being removed was of a significant value, the law in some cases then imposed a duty on the landowner to preserve the property until the owner came to retrieive it, but the owner then could be liable to the landowner for the cost of preserving the property (in the mall example, towing the car to a secure location).

And finally, in some cases the laws of the particular jurisdiction give landowners specific authority to tow cars that are improperly parked.

As I said at the beginning, the exact powers of landowners will vary considerably with each jurisdiction, so if you need legal advice about your specific situation, you should consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. The above discussion is not intended to be legal advice about your personal situation, but simply to comment on a matter of public interest and discussion.


Yeah, I, too, would like to see a cite for that. I don’t believe it for a minute.

To stay legal, any tow=away zone must have posted contact information for the car owner to allow them to locate and retrieve the car. So, if a building has “No Parking - Violators Will Be Towed” signs without a wrecker company name or a phone number, it’s a bluff.

What the others said about leaving your stuff in somebody’s yard.

It’s important to remember that, in most places at least, the curb parking area in front of your house is not your personal property. Not even if you’re a business owner.
You can challenge the amount of the fees, but they’re probably legal.
Here, if your car is towed at 11pm, and you pick it up at 1am, you get charged for two days storage.

Most of the ones here (Georgia, by the way) have my already mentioned “Cars in violation will be towed according to state code GA:Blahblahblah”, with phone number, location, and even the cost…

[Chuck Connors lookalike for Time-Life Books]
John Kallisti Hardin, a man so mean he once shot a man fer towin’.
[/Chuck Connors lookalike]

From the texas penal code on lethal force in theft situations I have seen, I don’t think so Tim.

You are aware that you have not been making the payments, they write you lots of letters and make lots of phone calls. They tell you “we are going to reposess the vehicle” It becomes quite reasonable to believe someone may take your car. If someone was stealing your car…I hope you kept up on your insurance.

You are also not the actual owner of the vehicle, the finance company is. Shooting the agent of the owner of said vehicle for removing his property would more likely be considered murder than any kind of justified use of lethal force.
IANAL but I am a supporter of gun owners rights and I firmly believe shooting a reposessor will land you in a mountain of trouble.

Okay, you want to try to attack a tow truck driver?


usually these words describe tow truck drivers:
big, thick, usually over 240lbs, muscular, redneck, gun owner, concealed weapons permit, etc

that would be real stupid to try to attack a tow truck driver… im pretty sure you would be the one hurting.

and no, in texas its the opposite… you cant try to hurt someone towing your car. and repo’ing your car? if its getting repo’ed its not your car anymore!

In California, the Vehicle code allows property owner to have illegally parked cars towed away. The law requires certain conditions to be met, such as signs displaying the vehicle code that allows for towing of illegally parked cars with the local police agency phone number. Cars can also be towed if they are parked in a fire line, blocking a legally parked car, or a notice is placed on the vehicle for 96 hours. The tow company is also required to report the tow to the police so the car owner will know who towed the car. California also only allows one day to be charged if the car is retrieved within 24 hours, but the tow company can charge by the calender day after the 24 hours.