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It’s Advanced vs. Amazon after delivery van towed from Buckingham apartments

An Amazon delivery van was reported stolen yesterday near Ballston. Except it wasn’t stolen. It was towed.

The tow pits two Arlington institutions against each other — infamous local towing company Advanced Towing and, in the other corner, newer arrival Amazon. It also raises a general policy question: should delivery vehicles parked improperly on private property get towed?

The incident happened around 2 p.m. yesterday at a residential complex in the Buckingham neighborhood.

“At approximately 2:01 p.m. on August 16, police were dispatched to the 4300 block of 4th Street N. for the report of a stolen delivery vehicle,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Prior to officers arriving on scene, dispatch advised the vehicle had been towed from private property. Officers were then placed back into service.”

Soon thereafter, the van could be seen impounded in the Advanced Towing lot in Ballston.

Advanced says that the van was towed because it was parked in a fire lane on private property, and that the company tows regardless of whether the driver is making deliveries.

“The Amazon driver left their delivery vehicle unattended in a fire lane/no parking zone, rather than park in one of the open spaces,” the company said in a brief statement to ARLnow. “Amazon vehicles are not exempt from following the law or rules of someone’s private property.”

Signs at the address police were dispatched to do, in fact, explicitly state “No Parking — Fire Lane” and “Towed at Owner’s Expense,” though the exact location the van was parked prior to being towed is unclear.

ARLnow reached out to Amazon for comment but has not received answers to our questions as of publication.

This is not the first time Advanced has towed an Amazon van. ARLnow reported on a delivery van towed from an apartment parking lot in Falls Church in 2019.

Asked about delivery vans being towed and local towing policies, Savage referred readers to the county website.

“You can find information regarding private tows, also known as trespass tows, from private property on the County website and in County Code § 14.3-5. Removal of Trespassing Vehicles,” she wrote. “If a vehicle owner believes their vehicle was towed in error, they can report to Arlington County Police for investigation by submitting an online complaint or calling 703-228-4266.”

Advanced has long maintained that its local notoriety is the result of its efficiency in properly towing vehicles that are improperly parked and thus trespassing on private property. A lawsuit brought by former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring for alleged predatory towing practices only resulted in a $750 fine — which owner John O’Neill touted as vindication.

The towing company also won some recent plaudits for a driver’s actions to help a man threatening to jump from an overpass.

ARLnow’s photographer, meanwhile, spotted another Amazon van getting away with some improper parking just steps from where the other van was towed. While looking for the original towing scene, we snapped an Amazon van parked on the private drive of the 4300 block of 4th Court N.

“Private street — no parking in alley — towing at owner’s expense,” read a sign at the entrance to the driveway. It was placed by Advanced’s competitor, A-1 Towing.

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