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Advanced Towing: Rip-off Artists? Or Fair Parking Enforcers?

by Scott Brodbeck September 29, 2010 at 3:09 pm 17,899 178 Comments

Advanced Towing is either a hated predatory towing company or a very effective solution for ridding parking lots of illegally-parked vehicles, depending on your perspective.

The company’s drivers will watch over restricted parking spaces and wait for some unfortunate schmo to park there and walk off the owner’s property, at which point they snatch the car and drive off. They do this at the Four Mile Run branch of the Virginia DMV, at the Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike, and elsewhere around Arlington. Needless to say, it has not won them many friends.

They have earned themselves a steady stream of hate on Yelp. They have been the subject of a not-safe-for-work screed by a prominent local blogger. And they’re often involved in disputes that have to be settled by police.

The dispute that led to the photo above happened last week when a driver thought his car was damaged by an Advanced tow truck. Police concluded that it was preexisting damage.

One day later, a man contacted TBD and ARLnow.com after his car was towed from the same private lot adjacent to the DMV. He accused Advanced of using a “decoy” to attract people to the spaces, then threatening him when he tried to warn others. “Aggressive towing, intimidation at Arlington DMV parking lot,” TBD’s headline read.

This all brings up the inevitable question: Is Advanced unethical? Are they preying on unsuspecting drivers without regard to circumstance? Or are they delivering justice to people who ignore no parking signs?

I’ve personally complained about my car being towed before, although that involved poorly-marked county-owned spaces. Yes, getting towed is not fun. And yes, Advanced is ruthless and their drivers aren’t exactly the friendliest people in the world. But my recent experience with the company did not produce a burning feeling of resentment.

Yesterday I stupidly parked in a restricted lot while checking out another report of a car damaged by a tow truck. Two minutes later, I turned around to find my car in the process of being towed. I ran up and asked to pay the drop fee, a $25 fee that you can pay the driver if you catch them before they leave the lot.

“You must have been towed before,” the burly, tattooed driver said. He lowered my car and drove off without anybody resorting to threats or accusations. It was just business. Tough, but fair.

  • JP

    They are reckless drivers none the less. They drive through Clarendon at high rates of speed towing cars basically sideways. They do this a lot from the parking lot of the bank across from 3 where they tow dozens of cars a night down to the parking lot behind the BB&T. They tow them quickly from bank and down the road to secure them with reckless disregard for the safety of pedestrians and other motorists. Police could ticket them for reckless driving nightly.

    • Arlres35

      As the blogger below mentioned, Arlington County said “The overwhelming majority of towing complaints are without merit”. This guys story probably didn’t check out either. I can relate to businesses that grow tired of people illegally parking in their lots. I live and work in Arlington and sometimes I can’t park in my own parking lot when I get home. I paid a lot for my condo and when I get home I don’t feel like knocking on doors to see who is in my space.

      • P. Giaffre

        I agree with you Arlres35. I don’t want to have to jeopardize my safety and inconvenience myself by knocking on doors when I come home late at night if someone is in my space. That’s what the towing company is there for. People are usually a-holes when you ask them to move anyway. I heard that in the late 80’s or early 90’s a unit owner was stabbed and/or killed in my complex on UHLE street over being towed from a reserved space. That’s why towing companies do the patrolling instead of homeowners.

        • Thes

          I think there’s a real difference between when a business owner or homeowner has decided, in their OWN judgment, to call and have a particular car towed. They are completely within their rights, and usually quite reasonable. What the rest of these comments demonstrate is that the towing companies, unsupervised, routinely behave unreasonably. They have no incentive to be good neighbors or maintain a business relationship, or even show common decency. If a car isn’t bothering someone enough that they feel like picking up the phone to tell someone, maybe it’s not bothering anyone enough to need to be towed in the first place No need to confront anyone, just make the call.

          • Yeager

            Towing is not that complicated, towing companies are given clear instructions. Whenever someone is towed from our complex and they complain to our condo board, they point out endless minutia about why our board should have gone the extra mile to hunt them down before towing their car. Warning signs are posted just like on city and state streets. If you break the law by parking illegally on a public street, Jay Fissette and Walter Tejada are not going to come track you down to give you a warning before the Arlington Police ticket you.

  • JR

    Drive-by-towing should be banned, plain and simple. The county board has taken this up before, most notably in response to legions of complaints about Frank’s Towing, which I believe finally went out of business. My recollection is the county’s authority is limited by state regulation on this issue. Sounds like Advanced is picking up where they left off.

    Glad to know about the drop fee. That’s obviously something the industry doesn’t want people to know.

    • A. Silver

      Drive-by or patrol towing, or whatever you want to call it, is an incredibly effective tool we use to control illegal parking. We use Advanced in our development and they are great. I haven’t seen any data indicating the drive-by part of towing is the root of any problem, in our complex it is the reason illegal parking problems are resolved.

      • Concierge

        I’m sitting at my concierge desk right now and the towing guy just handed me a towing slip. The only part I hate is people come yell at me like I did it. Hey, I’m not the one who didn’t park in the right place but I have to be nice, it’s my job. Get tired of hearing people complain though. It’s not the towing company fault.

        • NPGMBR

          I have not been towed in over ten years. Last time I happened, I made sure it was the last time. Its a simple matter of fact. People know they should not park on the grounds of a complex to which their vehicle is not registered but they take the chance because they are lazy.

          If they get caught, they have no one to blame but themselves.

  • ArlRes

    I say if the lot is marked as permit / customer only – its fair. One might view Advanced as “aggressive” while others might view them as “effective.” It’s all in prospective.

  • hooooos

    I was towed by A-1 Towing out of a space in my own building a couple of weeks ago. The tow company claimed I was over the yellow line into another space, but I am positive that I was not. They produced 3 photographs, one showing an angle from about 6 feet off the ground and from the entire other side of the car, and two that were too dark to see where the yellow line was. Tow truck companies are scam artists, and scammed $115 out of stealing my car.

  • John

    Advanced Towing practices predatory towing, plain and simple. Arlington should ban the practice as many other cities have done. There is a difference between parking enforcement, which is necessary, and sitting across from lots all day waiting to swoop in to tow. The two minutes it took you to be towed is illustrative of the problem. Intentionally poor signage is another issue. The fact of the matter is that the company has to operate with a license issued by the county, under the rules issued by the county. As residents of the county, we deserve a new look at this practice and some reforms to the predatory towing laws.

    • Mary

      Advanced Towing signs have been on my property for 5 years. They have only towed for the last four. When we were faced with going out of business I had no choice but to discontinue to be a good neighbor and look out for the best interests of my business. In the first month of towing, business went up 20%. That percentage is just about where I have to be to keep the doors open and turn a small profit.

      • MrClarendon

        I say put the name of your business up here and see what happens to that 20%. Seriously…

    • Semester1

      I don’t see any difference between a police officer witnessing someone commit a crime and acting on it and the towing company, business owner, etc. witnessing a parking infraction and acting on it. I mean really, if you don’t see it occur then how do you know. Property owners cannot be forced to allow vehicles to park in their lots because they didn’t see the vehicle initially parking. It doesn’t make sense. You park illegally, seen or not seen, your car should be subject to towing.

      • Thes

        The difference is that when the government does it, you are allowed to get a trial (or at least a hearing) to contest it.

        • Mary

          Where is my hearing when all my parking is full? I cannot watch my parking lot while tending to customers, answering phones and helping staff. If you chose not to patronize me anymore that is your choice, going out of business becuase my customers have no where to park is mine.

          • Thes

            Your hearing is this: call a tow truck. Put it on speed dial, if you want.

            My old condo used to put stickers on peoples cars with special glue that was hard to get off saying “don’t do this again!” It solved 98% of the problem and we hardly ever had to call a tow truck for a 2nd offense.

            You’re taking someone’s entire car, for goodness sakes! It’s not a proportionate amount of disruption to the “damage” they’ve caused you, and should not be done automatically or lightly.

            Take that minimal responsibility for the consequences of your decisions. If it’s truly worth 20% of your revenue, I’m sure you can take the extra 30 seconds to dial a phone when it happens.

            However, if you really think it’s good business to tow someone just because the truck driver claims to have seen leaving your lot (even if, for example, they were intending to make you the last stop on their shopping trip, or going to the bank first to get they money they were going to spend on you) then please provide the name and address of your business I’m sure customers will be happy to avoid it.

            And why am I suspecting that rather than simply putting up a wire at the end of the day, your lot is also patrolled and towed even when your business is closed? Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

          • MrClarendon

            What’s your establishment. That way those who don’t like your support of this racket know not to go there. Fair enough?

        • CivilOne

          If you get towed and you don’t agree with it you do absolutely get a trial to contest it. It’s called a civil trial, If your case has merit, you may win, if not, you may lose. Based on what I’ve seen most people lose because their cases do not have merit. Most are nothing more than disgruntled car owners suing because they are unhappy about being towed. It’s gets personal because it’s someones personal property that is towed.

          • John

            Towing does have its place, and I have used it many times (to save me when I was broke down and to remove someone parked in my reserved spot overnight after I left a note and attempted to track him down). But I have also had my run-ins with Advanced Towing. These experiences have led me to believe they practice predatory towing. Instances:

            1. At the Clarendon Shops (the loop with the Crate and Barrel, etc.) I parked at 11pm and ran upstairs. I did not know it was pay parking all hours until I got upstairs and was told by a friend. I ran back down to my car about 90 seconds after I had left it. Not only was it in the process of being towed, but when the driver saw me coming he quickly drove away with the car only half hooked up. When I got to the lot and complained about potential damage that may have occurred from hazardous towing I got the brush off. I think the woman said, “Prove it and sue us if you want.” The funny thing about this incident is that I complained to the property owner and they refunded the towing fee because Advanced Towing is not supposed to lie in wait and tow immediately, which is clearly what happened.

            2. My friend lived in an apartment on Wilson with a small lot to the side that is notorious for predatory towing – the truck parks across the street and just waits for people to park. I parked one day and waited IN THE CAR for him to come out and join me. It was dark, and it took a few minutes. Suddenly the tow truck pulls up and starts to hook up my car! I jumped out and the guy had the gall to ask me to pay the drop fee! After instead calling the police, he got in the truck and drove off. EXTORTION.

            I guess my point is that towing is in fact necessary, but I would encourage business owners to be smart about who they employ and the policies they establish. Hiring a predatory company like Advanced Towing is an unwise decision. Having a reasonable, clear policy that is enforced by a reputable business is a different story.

    • Gman

      I don’t think what they do can be characterized as predatory, towing is a reasonable response against parking violators. People who take advantage of other peoples valuable parking are better fitting of the term predatory. How about that. Predatory parking violators…I think I just coined a new phrase. Can I copyright that? Actually, I like the other bloggers phrase “Parking Poachers”. That’s a good one.

  • NoName

    Maybe Walter Tejada can give an impassioned presentation about why Advanced is so bad and then say they will ban towing from private property, thumbing their nose at Virginia law.

  • Kevin

    How do these decoys work? The TBD article didn’t mention them.

    • According to the guy who emailed us, one car is parked in the private lot all day long. Our tipster was told by a DMV guard that it was a decoy intended to lure others into parking there. But it seems logical that it could simply belong to the owner of the service station.

  • I’ve always been more outraged at their demand you pay whatever it is — always some slightly odd number like $125 — in exact bills. They don’t give change. Even though they have it. So if you just hit the ATM on the way there, they claim the right to keep the extra $15 or whatever.

    • JR

      That is ridiculous. And they refuse to take credit or debit cards or checks. That should be illegal.

      • el fat kid

        it is… required by law/arlington county code to accept several forms of payment.

        • TGEoA

          They can except any payment they like. If they took CC they would have nothing but chargebacks or bounced checks.

          • Lou

            Q: Can a tow company only accept cash, and refuse to accept a credit card?
            A: No. The company must accept cash, an insurance company’s check, travelers’ checks or money orders, or debit, credit, or charge cards. (Arlington County Code § 14.3-10)

        • Is that a recent law? Because when I went 8 years ago, I had to walk to a 7/11 to change a $20 before getting my car out. They would not give me my car back for anything but cash in exact change.

          • charlie

            it is one of those laws that we have to appease people who complain and pander to the board but it never actually gets enforced. Yes, you must have cash, and at 2 AM who really cares what the code says, you just want your car back.

  • G

    We use this company in my condo parking lot. No one dares to park in someone else’s spot, or park in a visitor spot without a pass. However I only see them around maybe once a month. They have a financial incentive to keep an eye out on our lot, so I don’t mind allowing drive-by towing.

    • JR

      Your condo association has the power to fire them. You should try to see to it that it is done. Also, any businesses that sign contracts with them should be contacted as well and told to stop. Advanced does require a contract with a property owner to tow. Perhaps some pressure could be put on them as well.

      • TGEoA

        Why should they fire them? It sounds like their residents LIKE having their spaces available for themselves.

  • el fat kid

    worst bunch of jackasses in the count(r)y… tho i do have some sympathy for this uneducated group of dipshits – they were obviously abused as children and need to be constantly towing in order to support what is likely a significant meth habit.

    Tow companies in Arlington are required to drop your car and accept ‘payment in lieu of towing’ but Advanced completely ignores that rule and will drive right at you if you try to stop them. I have seen and been subject to threats of violence from their unbalanced drivers on several occasions. Also saw them bouncing a car (not mine) for fun at a stoplight (called the cops but unsure if anything came of it).

    How do they still have a business license?

  • ballston

    yeah these ppl are the worst. we parked in our parking lot, walked in to grab the guest pass, came back 1 minute later and the car was gone.

    they literally sit and wait for instances like that.

  • Banksy

    If people park where they’re not supposed to, I don’t have a problem towing them. However, the tow truck driver threatening a guy who was warning people not to park in the private lot by the DMV definitely crosses the line.

  • Advanced once towed my car from the parking lot behind my apartment complex, from a spot I pay rent to park in. They claimed I didn’t have the parking tag you’re supposed to hang from your rear-view mirror. I did, (I’ve also been parking the same car in that lot for 3 years) unfortunately the tag had been conveniently taken off and smashed to pieces on the floor of the car.

    Of course, I was out of town when this happened and didn’t realize my car was gone for three days. By the time I did I owed Advanced $700+ (storage fees) and they’d put a lien on my vehicle for non-payment.

    • G

      Barry, I feel your pain. Something similar happened to me while I was away on vacation. I parked on a street legally in a public spot and while I was away on vacation, temporary “no parking” signs were put up so a contractor could park in front of someone’s townhouse during the day. I fought it but lost. I can’t predict the future… how am I supposed to know someone is going to put no parking signs around my car? Of course I had to pay a fine, towing fees and storage fees.

    • Renee

      Advanced Towing did the same thing to my car. I was parked in the back lot of my community, with my parking sticker in the rear window. When I discovered my car was gone I called Advanced Towing and they said my car had no sticker. When I picked up my car, the only thing missing was the parking sticker to allow me to park in that lot. Everything else (my Arlington zone pass, my SmarTrip pass, my IPOD, etc) remained. Clearly they targeted the sticker. The lousy picture they took before towing was inconclusive. I even saw where they broke into the front driver side of my car. The GM never returned my calls! My association reimbursed me, but not without raising concern among the Board members. Advanced Towing is definitely unethical…

    • I had a very similar experience with Advance Towing, who towed my car from my apartment’s lot claiming my decal wasn’t properly displayed. When I picked up my car, the decal had been removed from the inside of my windshield and shoved between the front seats and console of my car. The smirking sixteen-year-old working the desk shrugged off my ire. Interestingly enough, the incident happened about a week before Christmas last year. Hope the driver’s hussy got a real nice $115 cubic zirconia from Wal Mart.

      Several weeks later I happened to look out my window into the parking lot and saw an Advance truck towing away another known resident’s car. In literally 15 seconds he had the car hooked up and was careening away like a bat out of hell, banging that Acura on every curb and pot hole along the way.

      • Sting

        I am sorry, I just have a hard time buying into the “My permit was there when I parked” story. I think if there was a common pattern of events where towed car owners claimed their permits were missing the police department would be aware and action would have been taken. It’s easy to lay blame after the fact.

  • Kevin

    Some blame needs to be placed on the business owners as well for hiring these people to patrol their lots. Particularly the Wachovia in Clarendon which is where a lot of people get towed from after hours.

    I recall reading something about the bank manager being worried about the liability of people parking in the lot but I could be mistaken.

    • NoName

      You can thank lawyers in this country for that…

      • anon

        I’m actually wondering why no one has sued Advanced. Conversion of property is a tort and theft is a crime. It seems like they occasionally tow people who’ve parked legally.

  • anon

    What I love is that they are constantly towing from the Gold’s lot in Ballston, yet the Advanced Towing tow truck driver illegally parks his own car in the Gold’s lot all the time (really messy Jeep parked in the back). He is clearly not a Gold’s customer (but should be) and is on duty for Advanced Towing at the time he parks there.

  • Sam

    I understand the need for towing when cars are illegally parked. However, I feel that there are certain circumstances when exceptions should be made. As a pizza delivery driver, I am highly dismayed that Advanced Towing has the nerve to tow delivery drivers. The people at Advanced Towing know darn well that a delivery car is only going to be parked for a few minutes (hardly a safety issue, even in a fire zone), and yet this company has no problem towing delivery drivers. I think this is highly unfair. Many of the apartment buildings my store delivers to have parking enforced by Advanced Towing, and there are certain “hot spot” buildings in which our drivers refuse to leave our cars unattended for fear of being towed (we’ll just call the customer to meet us outside, which may or may not royally piss off the customer). My opinion may be biased since I have to deal with the threat of being towed by Advanced Towing nearly every day as part of my job, but I still think that this company is more predatory than fair.

    • Dave

      That’s pretty messed up, delivery drivers should have some kind of legal exemption, whether it’s UPS or pizza.

      • MrClarendon

        I would love to see these dishonorable people tow UPS or FedEx. That would be a wrap for advanced towing once either of those companies sends its lawyers down to the county courthouse.

    • Thes

      It does seem like common sense to allow people to park literally “for five minutes” in any spot if they have a good reason. Not sure this applies just to delivery drivers — the same principal would seem to apply to everyone. How would such a requirement actually be implemented? In other words, what would the law/regulation have to say to make this happen in a fair and effective way?

      • brian

        How about,driver must observe illegally parked car is left unattended for 5 minutes prior to towing or company incurs large fine and individual drivers commerical driving license is suspended? I’m sure there would be plenty of vigilante sting operations to ensure this is followed. I once got towed while carrying someones bags up to their 2nd floor apartment after picking them up from the airport. I was literally gone from car less than 2 minutes. My dad came to visit me on another occasion when I lived in a condo with a parking enforcement contract, he knocked on my door, and as I was walking out to put the permit on his car, he was already hooked up. Had to pay the drop fee. These people are thieves.

        • Bonus

          That makes no sense. Should police wait 5 minutes before giving speeders citations? Should meter maids wait 5 minutes before issuing parking citations? Lets analyze this. If a meter maid waits, lets say 10 minutes, after witnessing each expired meter and the meter maid tickets 15 vehicles a day (I’ll bet they ticket a lot more than that), the meter maid will have to waste 150 minutes of County payroll time just sitting around. Why should anyone have to spend their time idly waiting around when someones car is violating posted parking restrictions. I guess in a perfect world that would be great but who has that kind of time.

          • Thes

            Why would the police wait 5 minutes before issuing a citation for speeding? That makes no sense. However, the police routinely give warnings rather than citations for speeding and other violations. They use common sense, and they don’t take your car, either (usually).

          • SevenEleven

            Problem for property and business owners is tickets don’t get the job done, cars are still illegally parked. Why should I have to waste my valuable time or pay someone to put tickets on a car if I have posted signs to warn them? At my 7-11 store people going to businesses around us 5 to 10 minute our parking spaces to death. When we started towing business increased noticeably. If spaces are full customers go somewhere else.

          • Josh S

            Bonus, just stop and listen to yourself for a sec. You’re telling me in your entire life you’ve never asked for leniency on a rule because of extenuating circumstances? The five minutes is EXTREMELY reasonable, given all the possible reasons that a person could have for temporarily parking in a location. (Many of which we’ve read about here…)
            The 100% no tolerance of any rule is just a lack of imagination or basic decency. Frankly, it’s what we associate with totalitarian regimes. It’s what gets seven year olds tossed out of school for drawing pictures of knives. It sends otherwise law-abiding productive members of society to jail for possession of tiny amounts of recreational drugs. (Mandatory sentencing rules.) Etc.
            I agree that parking lots need to be policed in order to prevent unauthorized parking. But predatory behavior is not acceptable.

        • brian

          My dad was parked illegally for the minute it took him to walk to my apartment and me to get the guest pass off the refrigerator. I was parked in a resident spot, albiet illegally since my car didn’t have a sticker, while I carried the luggage of the resident whose spot I parked in upstairs. There needs to be some common sense applied here.

  • Rob

    pay for a garage or ride the metro

    • Donna

      Your “solution” is brilliant.

      Except not.

      • Rob

        I know! right? It’s not like it takes a genius to know that if you park illegally then you’ll get towed.

    • John

      Obviously a tow driver for them….

  • TGEoA

    Listen up folks and I’ll give you a great tip. If you are going to park illegally, then do it on government owned property or public roads. That way the tow companies can’t touch you. The worst that is goin to happen is you get towed by a county rig and/or you get a ticket. In either case it is a smaller expense and it is MUCH less likely to occur.

    • el fat kid

      think you might be missing the point… they are towing legally parked cars, overcharging, ignoring county code/law, physically threatening people, driving recklessly, etc. etc.

      yes, if you park illegally your right to bitch is limited – but if they’re breaking the law, which it appears they are, then there’s a problem.

    • Sam

      That’s good advice–I forgot to mention that in my post. I always try to park on the street when I’m delivering pizza because I know the local towing companies can’t touch me (except in Rosslyn). Unfortunately, even illegal street parking difficult to find around some of the busier buildings I deliver to.

    • marcello

      I had my car towed in Fairfax by the Police because i left it in a no parking zone, and it wound up costing me almost $300 bucks, and i picked it up 6 hours after it was towed. So much for your tip.

  • Eddie

    Their drivers are irresponsible, rude and dangerous. They routinely tow from my complex (which I don’t have a problem with) but they damage cars by scraping the bumpers on the ground, and drive sideways cars off at high rates of speed. I witnessed one driver nearly run down a man in my parking lot. Years ago they towed my car from an accident scene and stole everything in the cabin including the fuses out of the fuse box! The fact that many tow truck drivers in NoVA actually say that they “steal cars” for a living should be instructive. There is no need for the unprofessional behavior.

  • Dan

    I fell victim to Advanced Towing once. The no parking sign (which was installed by Advanced) was bent away from the road so that a driver only sees the back of the sign when entering the lot. The only way to see the sign was to looked back after passing it.

    Mentioning this to the company’s fee collector drew a nasty response that indicated this was by design. They refused to fix the sign. I mentioned that I’d complain to Arlington’s regulators if they won’t fix the sign on their own. Advanced’s fee collector rolled her eyes and said, “Go ahead. They won’t do nothing.” Sure enough, complaining about the sign resulted in several people promising to have someone else call me back, but nothing more. No one actually called me back, and no one ever indicated that the problem would be addressed.

    Advanced is more predatory than fair, and they are allowed to be so because Arlington doesn’t enforce its signage rules for towing company signs.

  • charlie

    the property owners have crossed the line from defending their property to be jerks. if your car is towed, don’t blame ADVANCE — blame the property owner and BOYCOTT those businesses. THEY are the ones who give ADVANCE permission to take cars off their lot. BOYCOTT.

    • V Dizzle

      Not a bad sentiment. Will need a list of businesses that use them…

    • Sunny617

      Um, how about also blaming yourself for parking illegally? (Yes, except in cases where it was parked legally and Advance was out of line, I know.)

      • charlie

        I agree Sunny617 that people should be responsible for parking their cars.
        However, mistakes happen, or people go into a building to get a permit, pass, or to have their hosts tell them to move, and the cars are gone.
        If I came home from work and someone’s car was in MY driveway, I would try to find who owned it before towing.
        I think towing is great. I think the predatory nature is not.
        And those business who do this, know they are doing it and know they are getting kickbacks (mostly in free snow plowing) from Advance and others.
        I can tell you my car has never been towed, except from i-66 because it caught fire.

    • GMLaw

      Virginia law provides that property owners are able to remove unauthorized vehicles by towing after posting warning signs, it is a straight forward, simple concept. It is reasonable to assume most people in NOVA should be aware a “Park wherever you want policy” doesn’t exist in the DC area. All lots have some sort of restrictions. The blame should rest on the car owners who didn’t heed posted warnings.

    • Pepe

      I wish all the illegally parked cars would boycott my apt.complex and never come back so i could find a parking spot. Problem solved.

  • V Dizzle

    I wondered who these guys were. They fly through the Rosslyn/Radnor Heights (and Courthouse) area at high speeds (fastest cars on the road) and are reckless.
    I was at Cafe Asorti over the weekend and they were accross the street next to Greenberry’s (which was closed) stalking cars. I think they were towing a car whose owner was standing right there, since I heard yelling as soon as they lifted it. They pulled into the alley next to the plaza very quickly, and at first I thought that they hit a pedestrian.

  • Tim

    Are they ethical? No. Are they legal? Probably.

    When I lived in Arlington, I lived in a building that Henry’s towed for. My car was having some problems, so I wasn’t driving it a lot, and I noticed three days after it was towed that it wasn’t in the space. The reason? I hadn’t put the new registration sticker on my plate (Pennsylvania plate).

    The scammy thing about Henry’s is that the Arlington law says that cars must be towed to a lot within the county or within three miles of the county. Henry’s lot is right outside the beltway, and the edge of the lot is exactly 2.99 miles from the western apex of the county line. Not an easy place to get to by bus, let me tell you.

    Economically, it’s a strange business. It’s an expensive business to run, what with drivers who can only tow one car at a time, a lot that has to have an attendant 24 hours a day and be completely secure, trucks, etc. So they literally need to charge exorbitant rates (something like $130 to tow, $50 per day to store) to stay in business. As far as I see it, it’s like payday lending: if you have to charge such high prices for such a hated business, maybe you shouldn’t run the business in the first place.

    • el fat kid

      i agree with your discussion of costs… I can’t imagine what their liability insurance must be.

      but… I have seen and heard several stories of them going beyond predatory (albeit legal) towing and break the law. From physical threats to refusing to accept ‘payment in lieu of towing’ and numerous reports of reckless driving.

    • AH

      These aren’t folks who are just getting by… I’ve heard that these folks own millions of dollars worth of property in Ashton Heights

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    False dichotomy? They could be both rip-off artists AND fair parking enforcers. 😉 I’ve been towed in Arlington a couple of times. Once I went to move my car because my temporary parking permit expired at midnight, but my car was already towed at 12:03 AM. It struck me as unfair because their was no concept of a “grace period” (they were clearly waiting before midnight), and there’s really no way to appeal a decision. They have your car. That’s it. It is easy to get angry at the towing company, but it’s like getting angry at the vultures for dining on the corpse of a friend. THAT’S WHAT VULTURES DO. You can’t blame predators for acting in a predatory manner, if predation is *legal.* Towing companies have a *financial incentive* to act the way they do. If the tow operator looks at his watch, and it reads 12:01 AM, and he has to decide between making $125 RIGHT NOW vs. cutting you some slack for 5 minutes, he’s going to pocket the $125. That’s just human nature. So maybe the answer is not to get angry at the towing company, but to change the law so that drive-by towing (a.k.a. “patrol towing,” “roam towing”) is illegal. But good luck with that, because there are financial incentives to keep it legal, including towing company industry groups and lobbyists (e.g. http://www.towserver.net/) TRAA calls themselves “the voice of America’s tow truck industry.” I’m not sure which lobbying groups speak for the poor schmucks who get towed.

    • Eagle1

      The vultures here are ambulance chaser newspaper reporters competing for a story. The newspaper business must be very competitive right now. They have all focused on one little story that appears to have no truth to it. So far it just looks like some jerk who didn’t follow parking rules.

      • Eddie

        No one has an issue with legal towing. The problem is the unprofessional and dangerous manner in which this particular company operates. It’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

  • Tim

    By the way, I’m not in the mood to find it right now, but the county (and most municipalities and counties) have very strict laws regulating this industry. They regulate fees, payment forms, facilities, trucks, signage (at the company’s lot and at the lot where they tow from) and much more. It’s on the county site somewhere.

    • Thes
      • Dude Where’s My Car

        Good link! I like how they put “no grace period” in boldface. Wonder who thought THAT was a good idea. I’ve had property managers tell me that my parking permit “good until 2/1/xx” would keep me from getting towed on 2/1/xx. Had to explain that NO, the towing companies interpret “until” to mean they tow your ass one second after midnight on 2/1/xx.

        • Ryan

          When was the last time you saw a meter maid give any grace period. Expired meter = ticket.

          • Josh S

            Ryan, use your head, man. Meter maids don’t lurk and then scrawl out a ticket the second your meter expires. Sure, if they happen to be there when your meter expires they’ll write the ticket. On the other hand, these guys DO lurk and are pouncing on cars the second they are out of compliance. It’s a great business plan, I’m sure, but hardly communal behavior. Seriously, people wonder why there is so much low level anger in our country, this is but one piece of it – blatant anti-social behavior by private enterprises that appear to be above reproach.

          • anon

            Josh S – you obviously have not parked around Clarendon – the Meter Maids do lurk around and give you tickets the second the meter expires.

  • bob

    Terrible company, needs to be shut down. Any car that is damaged should be allowed to sue both advanced and the property owner for damages.

    • Ryan

      I dont understand, is there a law that says you cannot sue a towing company if you think they damage your car during a tow.

  • Bringmetheyuppies

    Seems to me everyone is a little dishonest on this issue. The lot owner could clearly mark the spaces as towable. The county could ban the predatory practice. And the car owner could be more conscious of whether they are in a legal spot.

    • Jerrold

      What aspect of this are people describing as predatory? From what I can glean it seems the towed are not happy they were caught. What’s predatory about getting caught parking illegally? If a business has a problem with short term parking violations what are they supposed to do if it occurs every day? I think posting warning signs and subsequent towing is an appropriate response.

  • Jameson

    I have been to the DMV several times and the signs next door clearly say “NO DMV PARKING”. There are lots of speed limit and stop signs but people still speed and run Red lights. Car owners should take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming the towing company.

  • KZ

    I called to check out Advanced with Arlington County. Apparently, the County registers all complaints and assigns a police detective to investigate them. According the County and I quote “The overwhelming of towing complaints are without merit”. These people are probably just trying to get back at the towing company any way they can.

    • Katie

      Did you quote that correctly?

      • Frenchy

        I think they meant to say Overwhelming majority

  • Kathy

    Who wouldn’t be angry if their car was towed. It is surprising what passes for news. A major terrorist ring was busted today, now that’s news.

  • Ed

    Virginia Board of Towing and Recovery Operators


  • Jason

    Not sure what the term predatory means with respect to having a car towed. A car is either illegally parked or it isn’t. Gonna be more careful about where I park though!

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      predatory [pred·a·to·ry] 1. greedily destructive: greedily eager to steal from or destroy others for gain 3. ruthlessly aggressive: extremely aggressive, determined, or persistent. With respect to having a car towed, it means that any *doubts* or *gray areas* concerning whether your car should be towed (e.g. is it over the painted line? is it past the appointed time?) are always ruthlessly decided IN FAVOR OF HAVING YOUR CAR TOWED. i.e. it doesn’t matter if you are one inch over the line or one minute late getting to your car.

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      Not equating “predatory” with “evil,” however. Haters gonna hate, predators gonna predate. Welcome to the jungle.

      • Josh S

        It’s not necessary to call it “evil.” Anti-social will suffice. Last I checked, we (as humans) agreed to the social compact to get OUT of the jungle.

  • Steve

    I got my car towed by these wackjobs and it never came back. The car was clearly legally parked and the cops claimed they could do nothing about it when called. THIS IS GRAND THEFT AUTO plain and simple. These drivers are thieves and if one of them threatens me, he’s in for a surprise. Many of these tow drivers are packing guns illegally too…just so you know. Fairfax County cops had to crack down on one of their tow outfits some years back..and in the insuing investigation, discovered that several of the tow drivers didnt even have drivers licenses and were looting cars that they towed. Nothing more than typical street thugs. This is the only job they could get when they got booted out of the street gangs. SOMEONE should investigate the relationship between Arlington County and this tow company…someone somewhere is getting their palms greased to allow this to continue. I bet there are darn few elected officials cars getting towed!

    • SkinsFan

      What “relationship” between Arlington County and Advanced Towing? I don’t know if any of the other county agencies use Advanced in some capacity but the police department uses Redman’s for all of its towing. By the way, I know Advanced has a pretty bad reputation. I wonder if they employ any of the drivers who were freed up when Frank’s Towing was forced out of business. Frank’s was well known for overcharging customers, stealing items out of the towed cars, and using “predatory” practices. Eventually the owner went to jail on tax evasion charges.

  • Fred

    Lots of accusations flying but no evidence, where’s the beef? Doesn’t sound like any big conspiracy to me. I live in a townhouse in Clarendon near Market Common. Bar/restaurant patrons are constantly parking in our spaces. We have permits and our towing guy patrols the property. No permit…the car is towed…there’s no Gray area. Equation (Lots of bars/Lots of cars = Lots of towing)

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      I suppose the anecdotes listed in the blog post AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE only count as “evidence” when they support your belief that there is no problem, nothing to see here, move along?

      • Fred


        What I meant is the guy “alleges” wrongdoing, threatining behavior, etc. According to one of the posts above the county has investigated complaints and found them all meritless. If the gentleman whose car was towed made a complaint the county must have found it meritless. The article above says the guy in the article alleged damage to his car the police concluded it was pre-existing. There’s no meat to this story.

        • Mary

          Towing is just a sensationalistic story topic for disgruntled parking poachers. Towing is a needed evil. If you don’t want your car towed do not trespass on private property and leave your vehicle behind. What no one has mentioned in all these comments is that the original act of parking on someone’s property without permission is trespassing and is against the law. Private property owner’s have no other way to enforce for their quiet enjoyment.

    • Josh S

      Yeah, Fred, are you basically discounting all of the people who have posted here with their examples of predatory or otherwise aggressive, objectionable behavior? The story is but the jumping off point, it seems to me. And the quote clearly did NOT say that ALL of the complaints investigated were found to be without merit, just the majority of them. Also, the county can only make determinations about violations of the law. If it’s not illegal to lurk, then complaints about that will always be found to be without merit. So, create a law making it illegal to lurk (yes, I know – how do you enforce such a thing?).

  • Christina K

    I have never been towed by Advanced towing, but I can tell you an experience I had with one of their drivers within the past two years. I was driving northbound on N. Carlin Springs around 9:15 at night when I noticed up ahead a car being towed and the car was in half of one lane the tow truck driver in the other. The car was NOT properly hooked up (it was at an angle) and the tow truck driver was literally hauling add down Carlin Springs to their facility. I’m sure so he could quickly unload and pick up his next victim. I attempted to call Arlington’s finest to complain but by the time I reached someone we were at the intersection of CS and Glebe. The driver yelled out a few choice words to me as he knew I was following him, since I had to speed up to catch up and get his plate number. I feel sorry for who’s car he was pulling that night as I’m sure there was at least tire damage, and who knows what else.

    While I am sure there are ethical drivers out there just doing their job I think there are even more jackass tow truck drivers.

    • Firefighter1

      I’ve almost been run off the road numerous times by crappy Metro area drivers but never a tow truck driver. My experience is that truck drivers usually drive better and safer than the general public because they do it for a living. What difference does it make if a car is at an angle on a tow truck? I’ll bet a WIDE LOAD tractor trailer takes up more space on the road so what’s the big deal?

      • Josh S


      • John

        ? Are you serious?

  • Dave G.

    Parking space poachers are aggravating to say the least. When the spaces in front of my store are full I lose money. I’m sick of hearing “I’ll just be a minute.” Breaking News. There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is on the side of a tow truck.

  • Ryan

    If you go to DMV, park in the DMV parking lot. DUH

    • Josh S

      Ryan – um, have you BEEN to the DMV? The lot is frequently full. Jesus Christ, I’m dumbfounded that I even have to point that possibility out to you.

      • Rob

        Well, in that case, the neighboring businesses owe you a parking spot, right?

  • Mary

    In my opinion, the problem here isn’t the towing companies, it’s the people who ignore signs.

    Unlike in the far suburbs where many shopping areas may have an acre of free lots, parking is more scarce here in Arlington and often at a premium, especially in the busy metro-station neighborhoods. Business owners have the right to control their limited parking space and must rely on towing companies to enforce their regulations.

    I used to work for a apartment building in N. Arlington that contracted Advanced Towing to remove vehicles that were in violation of our parking rules and signs(i.e. no permit, parked in our visitor lot but driver walked away to neighboring businesses, etc.) Over the years, I heard all the bull***t excuses people gave for why they were parked in a particular space and why they shouldn’t have been towed. The real reason is that they couldn’t be bothered to read the posted signs or saw the signs but chose to ignore them because they felt like their convenience was more important than our right as a business to keep our parking lot available for our own customers.

    • John Shaft

      BOYCOTT Arlington businesses that contract with unethical towing enforcement. Businesses are not owed your patronage, they should be good neighbors and community partners.

  • Thes

    Part of the problem is that there is no middle ground for private property owners — either just let people trespass and park, or take the somewhat extreme step of lawfully stealing their car and ransoming it. The government has a sensible intermediate option: ticket the car. Most of the time, it’s enough to deter but not so much that it’s out of proportion to the offense. Maybe we should find a way to allow the government to ticket cars on private property, too.

    • LAckerman

      I think DC has that and it’s a disaster. Have you been down some of the more unsavory streets in DC and looked at their parking lots? I have and they don’t look so great. Cars with no wheels, parts, doors.

  • Lewis

    Way to sensationalize a story. Man claims his car was damaged by a tow truck. Police determine it was pre-existing damage. Slow news day?

  • Cherrydaler

    I agree with the original comment at the top. Their tow-truck drivers drive through Arlington as if they think it’s the local drag strip. They operate their vehicles in a completely reckless manner, and it’s only a matter of time before some poor pedestrian or cyclist is run over by these clowns.

    I’m fine with the concept of people being towed when they park illegally, but Advanced Towing is a menace to the county. Anytime I see them behind me on the road, I slow down to five miles below the speed limit and look for any pedestrians I can find to allow to cross the street just to slow them down…

    • LAckerman

      I see tow trucks picking up a lot of cars in accidents around Arlington but I haven’t seen tow trucks in any accidents that I can recall. I mean who carries around a radar gun anyway. Don’t tow trucks have diesel engines? I think they sound like they are going faster than they really are, the sound is scary when they are next to you cause it’s so loud.

  • RestonRunner86

    Here’s some food for thought. If I park in a lot clearly marked “Parking for Patrons Only. All Others Will be Towed at Owner’s Expense. Yada, yada, yada”, then go to the business and make a purchase I am technically a “patron”, correct? If I then walk across the street to pick up dry cleaning or buy a bottle of soda or something then come back to find my vehicle towed I’d be irate. I’ve seen signs in other jurisdictions that are more clearly-stated along the lines of “Parking for Patrons Only WHILE PATRONIZING.” (Or something to that effect). This would make it absolutely crystal clear that that you’re only welcome to park there during the window when you’re entering the store, browsing, purchasing, and then leaving. The way the first example of the sign I gave is worded it’s pretty easy to fight because, by definition, as soon as you made an on-site purchase you DO become a “patron”, and then you are technically covered with the “Parking for Patrons Only.”

    • Texas Wahoo

      If I have a Wachovia checking account, that makes me a Wachovia patron, no? Can I park there whenever I want, even if I’m not going to the bank that day?

      • Josh S

        No, and worse, they have “ATM Customers Only” signs.

      • RestonRunner86

        If the sign simply says “Parking for Wachovia Patrons Only”, and you are, by definition, a Wachovia patron, then the sign DOES give you permission to park there, does it not?

        • Texas Wahoo

          Literally it does, but I think everyone people need to use common sense.

          This shouldn’t have to be a legal document. “NO PARKING. Notwithstanding the foregoing, patrons shall be allowed to park while visiting the specific establishment (i.e., 7-11 and all of its heirs and assigns). The patron will be allowed a grace period of approximately thirty seconds to allow them to safely walk from the establishment to their vehicle in a timely manner.”

          • RestonRunner86

            I’m not saying I disagree with you, and you’d have to be a moron to think having a Wachovia checking account entitles you to park on any Wachovia property for the hell of it. HOWEVER, if you ARE towed off of a commercial premises, and you CAN prove that you WERE a “patron” of the business in question, then I don’t see how the towing company could have a leg to stand on. You can say “Well, the parking says for PATRONS only, and I WAS a PATRON.” I’m not saying every sign has to be as lengthy as what you posted, but in a “legalese” aspect it would be very easy for someone to slip away from repercussions going by the “Patron” argument. What level of spending/contribution or what duration of time is covered by “patron?” I know I just sound like a rabble-rouser, but if these aren’t specifically stated on the sign, then how can you tow away a PATRON of yours who then ran across the street for something else if you didn’t specify the time duration to which your patrons are allowed to park on your property?

          • Texas Wahoo

            I just think the Towing compnay would win. I don’t think a judge would buy the “I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to go to other establishments when I was done patronizing this one while parked in a “Patrons Only” spot.

    • Rob

      Don’t be dumb. Patron = you’re in the store right now. If you walk across the street for a soda, you’re no longer a patron. You know that.

  • Captain Obvious

    If a company has illegally or improperly towed you, then sue them. It costs all of $50 to file a pro se suit in General District Court, where an individual can proceed without a lawyer but a company has to hire counsel. This blog is so full of people whining about how wronged they have been, by so many people. If that’s true, defend yourself! The County Board can’t do everything, nor should it.

  • Thirsty

    Based on the squealing and scraping I hear when Advanced yanks a car out of spot, I’d be surprised if they did not do damage to cars. But my biggest beef with them is that they drive through parking lots at night with their lights off. That’s just dangerous and frankly a little creepy. It’s weird looking up and being surprised by the grill of a big dark truck in your face.

  • anon2

    total dirt balls. And im convinced there are kickback deals with the local businesses (ie, BB&T). I used to work next to Booeymongers off Glebe and every day there is an Advanced towing truck lurking around the corner, parked in a NO PARKING ZONE waiting for people to park in the marymount lot. I raised hell with BBT once after getting money out of the bank there (and being a longtime client) and then going across the street for 2 minutes to get a drink at 7-11. BBT refunded the money and said they do not promote predatory towing. What. Ever.

    • Jobe

      Our parking lot in inundated with people who aren’t supposed the park there especially at lunch time. Even though some of them are there for just a few minutes it’s not right. I have to circle the lot 5 times until a space is free. If the lot is marked No Parking then people should not park there even for two minutes. I understand what your saying but 7-11’s have lots of 2 minute customers and I think businesses like that are the ones that cause neighboring lots the most problems. The towing company is not the one at fault, it’s the narcissists who think the signs don’t apply to them.

  • anon2

    narcissists? whats your business jobe – this narcissist would like to boycott it. keep aligning with these a-hole tow companies and enjoy your kickbacks.

    • Alotta Faccina

      According to what I’ve read towing laws don’t allow towing companies to offer kickbacks. Kickbacks are exclusively reserved for politicians. Kidding aside, I don’t think the towing companies are doing anything wrong, they are towing cars that violate parking policies. People exaggerate.

  • John Shaft


  • MrCar

    I’ve never been towed. I care too much for my sweet car to let that happen. It’s unthinkable. It’s as if you left your child for a second in the toy store that says “childre must be accompanied by an adult” and they took your child to a holding pen several miles away for you to have to go pick up. Awful !

  • BK

    A few years ago I knew someone who worked for a tow company in Arlington (I foget which one) and they said that they would go to lots and tow cars down the street (insted of their lot) and go back to get more. Then from their they would tow them to the lot that way they could get more cars at once (instead of having to drive to the lot, drop off then come back). The workers also get paid depending on how many cars they tow so its in their best interest to tow as many as they can.

  • Christine

    I was just recently towed from an empty parking lot for a college that isn’t open yet in Ballston. It was Sunday evening, I was the only car in the lot, and I was gone from my car for less than 2 hours. I went over to Advanced Towing and paid the $115 without incident. Though I understand the signs were there and it is my own fault, I do think it’s a bit ridiculous that I was towed from an empty lot.

  • John

    Can we assemble a list of known businesses that use Advanced Towing? I will start with what I know:

    – Gold’s Gym in Clarendon
    – Westmont Shopping Center

    • Katie

      I think you mean Gold’s Ballston. The Clarendon one doesn’t have a parking lot.

      Westmont Shopping Center has an auto parts store, a Boston Market, and a few other shops but who is to say who’s responsible for hiring the towing thugs?

      • John

        Right, Ballston, my fault. I assume they have a contract with the Westmont property owner?

        Also, does anyone else get the feeling that the myriad towing apologists here are sounding like shills? “They must do a good job.” Plenty of towing companies have “done a good job” right up until their demise (see Frank’s).

        I would love to hear from a business about why they have selected a partnership with Advanced Towing instead of a different company.

    • Jibberish

      I’ve seen them all over Northern Virginia. They must do a good job because a lot of people seem to use them. I think if what all these disgruntled towed car owners are complaining about was actually true, they would have been vindicated in a court of law. Instead, I think their complaints have little or no merit. Knowing they would lose in court, all they do is complain about their experience.

      • Rob

        You know they would lose in court? You have all the facts for every situation?

    • mmmmm

      There is a lot in Clarendon that is owned by Arlington County (school board, I believe). It’s basically on the corner of Fillmore and Wilson. They contract to Advanced (so they do have a relationship with the county). At night it turns into a pay lot, so there is a big sign outside to lot that says $5 parking and when people park there, they get towed. The Driver waits behind the bushes in the lot across the street (also owned by the county). He drives recklessly…and no, I’ve never been towed by them. I see it every day from my office.

  • Creative Thinker Emeritus


    Just because a parking lot is empty doesn’t mean that the owners of the lot are inviting someone to park there. Think of a parking lot as a house, if your house is vacant for some reason it doesn’t mean you are inviting the general public to occupy it.

    • Thes

      That certainly is creative thinking! A house is not built as a place of public accommodation. A commercial parking lot is part of an enterprise that by its nature explicitly invites strangers to visit. I’m not saying that businesses shouldn’t be able to turn people away who aren’t spending money, but they should have to do it reasonably, i.e. by not stealing people’s cars unless it’s necessary.

      But if you want to use a house analogy, I’d say that if someone fell asleep in my flowerbed, I might be upset or even call the cops, but I don’t think I should be able to hire a company to come by and grab them and haul them to a dump in Fairfax County, even if they were technically “trespassing”. It’s just my front yard.

      • Lomax

        Good point but most warning signs I see have the words TOWING AT OWNER”S EXPENSE, they don’t say MAYBE YOU WILL BE TOWED. I do get your point but parking lots are subject to daily/nightly abuses, residential homes are not.

  • Rosslyn

    The most clear thing I’ve seen them do is frequently and knowingly violate the County’s drop-fee law, while flying off unsafely with cars half-hooked up. We have a spot in our condo complex that guests can use to park for 15 minutes if they insert money in a parking meter. I call it the “tow and go” spot, however, because the towing company doesn’t seem to care whether there is money in the meter or not. If you park in that spot–resident or guest–you get towed. (Probably another issue with that one…)

    One woman was getting towed not too long ago and standing by the tow truck, crying as they were quickly trying to flee with her vehicle. I mentioned to the driver the County’s drop fee and asked why they weren’t honoring it. (For something like $25, if you are present when they try to tow, they have to drop the vehicle.) He said they “couldn’t do that.”

    The drivers’ efforts to avoid having to follow the law on the drop fee results in them flying around Rosslyn-Ballston with cars that aren’t safely hooked up. The “predatory” issue comes into play because the drivers are playing a game — at the expense of following the law. They ignore the County’s law on drop fees and just try to get out of the scene as quickly as possible — regardless of what the County thinks the law should be.

    I don’t understand how Arlington County allows this to continue. If a restaurant has a chalkboard on the sidewalk, someone from the County immediately goes after the chalkboard. If I don’t pay my tax bill immediately (even when . . . ahem . . . the county messes up in mailing it), I am massively fined.

    But for some strange reason, the county has a warm spot for predatory towing companies. Is the County scared of the towers? Do the towers have some sort of local immunity, knowing folks in county government? I genuinely do not understand why the County gives a free pass here.

    If I were the Chief of Police for Arlington, I would be embarrassed about this widespread lawlessness and would be enforcing the law on the drop fee and on towing cars safely.

    It is truly bizarre that the County allows this to happen.

    • Thes

      Amen. The police should investigate this kind of conduct, and not just by investigating “complaints” that inevitably don’t involve enough evidence to prosecute.

    • Mar

      There is a lot in Clarendon that is owned by Arlington County (school board, I believe). It’s basically on the corner of Fillmore and Wilson. They contract to Advanced (so they do have a relationship with the county).

  • Erin

    I live right around the corner from the Westmont shopping center, and would regularly see the Advanced tow trucks whipping around the corner, and stopping on the side of the street. They would get out, then call someone, give them the VIN, finish hooking up the car etc. After weeks of wondering if they were repossessing cars, I finally asked the driver. He said they watch people get out of their cars, and if they begin to leave the premises, videotape them leaving (in case they try to argue), hook up their cars just enough to get around the corner, and then finish the rest out of sight (on my street). On a nice weekend, when I am sitting out on the front porch, I will see them tow 3-4 cars, on average, per hour. It’s really quite amazing to watch the speed in which these guys work. Going home for my lunch today, I saw one. All of the restaurants and shops that front Columbia Pike have huge signs in their front windows that tell people they will be towed if they park in that lot. Too bad their cars are often gone by the time they get back there to move them. I always feel bad when I see it happen… but there are signs all over the parking lot.

    • Colby

      So what you are saying is the company retained evidence of a parking violation in order to prove in court of law that a car owner trespassed? What the heck is wrong with that, that actually sounds like a bright idea.

      • Erin

        Yep, that’s what they do. It’s smart business sense… even in a shady business.

  • They’re the worst. Arlington would be better off without them.

    • me

      sure they would and when you go to a place to park, and there are no parking spots available, you are going to cuss and whine that there are no spaces available, aren’t you? The company might be bad, but impunding in general is a good thing, and one day you will realize that, mark my words

  • 22201

    I posted a few days ago that Pio Pio next to Carvel Ice Cream uses the predator towing company. At night you cannot see the sign, the entrances to the two are right next to each other. And by the time we got in to the store to see all the warnings about the towing, the car was already gone in under 3 minutes. Carvel was great and helpful, but boycott Pio Pio for this absurdity. A 4 minute grace period would have been all that was needed. We had 3 kids with us, no car seats no way to get them home at 9 p.m. It was just awful.

    • Grace

      As a property manager I can tell you that establishing grace periods brings it’s own set of problems. Those who are aware of the grace period know they can repeatedly violate parking restrictions as often as they like for whatever time frame established. Those towed will then argue it was four minutes fifty nine seconds instead of 5 minutes. It also encourages repeat offenders.

      • Katie

        I can tell you that the apostrophe in your first line doesn’t belong.

  • Katie

    On Saturday in the Shirlington garage near Harris Teeter, it was like a battle of the tow trucks, with A-1 and Advanced competing to take as many cars as possible and as quickly as possible. Every seen a tow truck with car attached go 55 mph around a tight corner on a parking garage ramp? Nearly hit several of us. I told the cops and they said “yea, they’re plenty reckless alright. In the public lot, we use Red Men. At least their lot is just down the street.”

    I never see towing going on in that (Harris Teeter) garage. Obviously they were taking advantage of the community event drawing so many people.

    I think most of the victims had parked in the spots reserved for the Hilton Garden.

  • YTK


  • JLS

    I am with the tow company here. The property owners are enforcing this type of towing NOT the tow company. Yes, finding a legal place to park is a challenge in Arlington but it is done thousands of people a day. I bet some of the people on here complaining benefit from this type of towing when they come home and have a place to park in a lot that is for private parking and towing is enforced by the property owner. For your benefit. I have been towed before, it sucked,and it was expensive. But I was at fault.

    We all live here because we like the city atmosphere, schools and parks. (Not, speed humps ,traffic circles and bike lanes. Oh, and the County Board who NEVER listens to its advisory boards or citizens). Want to make a difference in your community? Stop complaining and be responsible for your actions. If you just can’t……. send us your new address in Front Royal where towing is done on a as needed basis.

  • JLS

    December 2, 2010 at 10:09 am
    I am with the tow company here. The property owners are enforcing this type of towing NOT the tow company. Yes, finding a legal place to park is a challenge in Arlington but it is done thousands of people a day. I bet some of the people on here complaining benefit from this type of towing when they come home and have a place to park in a lot that is for private parking and towing is enforced by the property owner. For your benefit. I have been towed before, it sucked,and it was expensive. But I was at fault.

    We all live here because we like the city atmosphere, schools and parks. (Not, speed humps ,traffic circles and bike lanes. Oh, and the County Board who NEVER listens to its advisory boards or citizens). Want to make a difference in your community? Stop complaining and be responsible for your actions. If you just can’t……. send us your new address in Front Royal where towing is done on a as needed basis.


  • Kay Luongo

    Advanced Towing removes cars illegally parked in my parking lot. This helps assure me a parking spot and for that I am grateful. Imagine how frustrating it is to come home after a hard days work to find no parking spaces because some jackrabbits who don’t live there have taken all the spaces. Advanced Towing performs a thankless service.

  • Mark

    NO WAY! If it weren’t for Advanced Towing I would find another illegal parker in my spot everyday. ADVANCED TOWING provides a valuable service protecting my paid spots. Which I might add are a lot more expensive than what it cost the thieves who think their above us legitimate business professionals!

  • RJ

    My opinion is this : half of the people posting on here arent even arlington natives. Towing has had to be inforced here since 1993. If its not advanced its someone else. Take responsibility for your mistake and move on. As for the rude comments about drivers who arent educated and such , at least they have a job. Not like half the white collar people sucking our un-employment dry. As for DMV, if they change the law to stop giving DL’s to illegals , we might have somewhere to park on four mile run rd

  • Michael

    Try bicycle commuting.

  • JC

    My car was towed from Market Common Clarendon on Friday night while I used a Groupon at the Indian restaurant there. The food was terrific but when I came out to find my car towed, I was livid. I then witnessed Advanced Towing driver literally break into another car, alarms went off, he got in and turned them off and shifted the wheels so he could tow it away. I took pictures of it with my phone. It is really outrageous that this practice is condoned by the County. I did not know the meters weren’t County meters and was simulanteously paying to park in my spot with the Arlington County iPay system. The Advanced Towing people could not have been more rude and insulting. It is too bad that I like so many of the stores in Market Common because I will now avoid that area completely. I’m so furious that the merchants there are in on this scam.

    • Mar

      Oh my gosh, are they allowed to break into cars??

  • J Davies

    Obviously this company is highly unethical. Kudos to the man who took the time to warn others. If enough people did that then maybe this company would be forced to act ethically or better yet go out of business putting several ex cons out of work! If you ever see one of their spotters be sure to let them know what you think.



  • Jaydee

    Whenever I see a spotter for a predatory towing company I call the police and tell them there is a shady looking character in the parking lot using drugs or smoking pot. Works every time. Once the ex con spotter had warrants and was hauled away in hand cuffs1 Made my day! Don’t get mad, get even!

    • BetterLateThanNever

      I truly LOVE this comment.


  • Steve

    They towed my car on Friday evening from the Silver Diner parking lot. I went to the Silver Diner with my wife, and when we came back the car was gone. The spotter – Charlie – said that he had seen us cross the street and go somewhere else, which was a total lie.

    I have no problems with a car being towed if it was parked illegaly. But in our case we parked in the Silver Diner parking lot, went into the Silver Diner, and our car was towed.

    We called the police, but they said no crime had been committed. We ended up having to pay $125 to get our car back.

  • Brian

    Low lifes plain and simple. Had my van towed from my apartment complex in Arlington – with the apporpriate parking sticker. My “infraction” my plates expired a day and a half ago — keep in mind this happened the same weekend the storm knocked out power to have the city (including my apartment complex and the DMV). Dirtbag Low Lifes – so is the management of my apartment complex for allowing residents to be treated like this for plates expiring 1 1/2 days ago.

    • drax

      Private companies, towing or apartment, should not be enforcing DMV regs, especially with the car on private property. Only the police can do that.

      You should sue them.


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