Councilman calls for replacing towing companies

PHILADELPHIA - July 28, 2010

95 towing companies are on a rotating list used by the police department to clear accident scenes.

Councilman James Kenney says 60 percent of them don't have proper licenses.

He wants that list scrapped and temporarily replaced by the nine towing companies the police now use to recover stolen vehicles.

"They're bonded. They're background checked, their people, their equipment's inspected. I don't know who's driving these other guy's trucks, what their story is. Do they have valid driver's licenses?" Kenney said.

Kenney's call for action follows the war of the wreck-chasers that erupted with shootings and a firebombing last week.

The police responded by sending officers to accident scenes using the laptops in patrol cars instead of police radios that are monitored by wreck-chasers. But, the police are still sending tow trucks on this rotation list.

Right now, Licenses and Inspections regulates the tow operators, but Kenney says they're overwhelmed.

"There needs to be a real overhaul to how we're approaching this and it took a wild west shootout to get us where we are," Kenney said.

The city says Manton Towing is one of the worst with numerous violations. Just this past Saturday, they slapped a cease operations and stop work order on the company for zoning violations.

"I have every license required, including a dumpster license," Byron Tarlton, owner of Manton Towing, said.

Manton towing has been shut down before.

They've got a pile of complaints from people who say their cars have been illegally snatched off the streets.

Tarlton says he's being picked on by the city.

"If we were doing something illegal, someone would be in handcuffs and in jail," Tarlton said.

Councilman Kenney says operators like Manton keep bouncing back.

He wants them, and all the others on the rotation list, off the road until they can all be properly certified.

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