Beware of South Beach Tow Companies

Beware of South Beach Tow Companies
Illustration by Peter O'Toole

The man's eyes are wide with fury as he pounds the hood of the Tremont Towing truck that's hauling his gun-metal Lexus from the plaza at 15th Street and Alton Road in South Beach. The truck stops, and driver Robert Ashenoff Jr. slowly climbs out. He dwarfs the angry Lexus owner, a slim man with dreadlocks, by at least six inches and 80 pounds.

"This is a mistake, man," the guy with dreadlocks says.

"I'm a repo man, and I don't make mistakes, man," Ashenoff replies. "You know your car is getting repoed."

Without another word, the Lexus owner plants a foot on the truck's front grill and does a backflip, followed by a couple of cartwheels and another backflip. Ashenoff tries to back away, but the man throws a couple of ninja roundhouse kicks that slam him right in the face. Ashenoff falls to the ground. "Do you feel like a puta?" the dreadlocked man spits.

But he doesn't notice Ashenoff's passenger, a husky woman named Bernice. She sneaks up behind him with a tire iron, then lays him out with a vicious blow to the head. Then she lifts Ashenoff off the ground. "I don't do karate," she huffs. "I do karazy. I'll fuck a bitch up."

The confrontation is absurd, hilarious, and totally unbelievable. It's also par for the course for South Beach Tow, a faux reality show that draws thousands of viewers every Wednesday night on truTV. For three seasons, cable audiences have been eating up the badly staged reenactments of day-to-day business at Tre­mont, one of the two companies that have monopolized towing on South Beach for decades.

But for the thousands of residents and tourists whose rides are actually hooked every month by Tremont and its competitor, Beach Towing, the truth is far worse than Hollywood's scripted version. The fact is, towing on Miami Beach is an unparalleled city-sanctioned racket even in a town of slimy scams. It's a decades-long, politically sanctioned operation to hold people's cars for ransom for hundreds of dollars. In the first six months of 2013, both companies reported $1.2 million in revenues just from cars towed off public property. That's close to 5,000 cars towed between January and June.

New Times has pored through a year's worth of complaints filed with the Miami Beach Parking Department, scoured 81 police incident reports for their tow yards, and checked out a half-dozen open lawsuits filed against Tremont and Beach. The records show how both firms reap thousands in revenue by tricking drivers — and suggest why city officials let them get away with it.

Many of the towing tactics are so outrageous, in fact, that the brawls on South Beach Tow pale compared to the real incidents involving irate car owners. They may not use karate, but car owners routinely scale walls, try to run over tow truck drivers, and attack employees to get back their rides, all while eating up valuable police time with hundreds of 911 calls.

Rafael Andrade, a Miami Beach attorney representing Beach and Tremont, says his clients would not comment on specific allegations reported in this story. "The towing companies exercise caution and diligence before a vehicle is removed and spend considerable resources to investigate all claims and allegations against them," Andrade says. "Most are determined to be without support. When a mistake is made, it is corrected."

Andrade adds: "Bottom line, vehicles are towed due to criminal or civil violations of the law, and the towing industry simply provides a necessary, albeit at times unpopular, public service to the city and private businesses within the city."

"Everybody on Miami Beach knows the horror stories," says James Barak, whose minivan was snatched from his own driveway in March. "Beach Towing and Tremont have a monopoly."

Based on our research, New Times has come up with the biggest complaints about Beach Towing and Tremont. Beware — or end up in the tow lot yourself.


Lot Watchers

Under Florida law, tow companies cannot snatch a car willy-nilly. Instead, whoever owns or rents the property where a vehicle is illegally parked must call to order a tow. Yet Beach and Tremont routinely flaunt this pesky regulation by deploying lot watchers, usually homeless people, to call their dispatchers on easy prey, according to several victims. This notorious practice is so prevalent on Alton Road that businesses have resorted to posting signs warning their customers: "Beware the tow trucks."

Miami Beach lifestyle blogger Rachel Mestre experienced the tactic earlier this year. On January 10, she parked her Ford SUV in front of the 7-Eleven on 14th Street and Alton Road. Mestre went inside the Liquor Store, which is separated from 7-Eleven by a shared wall, then spent five minutes looking over the wine selection before settling on a Pinot Grigio. The 41-year-old writer then paid the cashier, walked out, and looked around in confusion. Her SUV was gone.

The cashier pointed to a lanky man in a white T-shirt and red basketball shorts sprinting across the street. "He loiters in the parking lot, contacting the tow truck drivers to come get their next victim," Mestre claims. "When I called Tre­mont, a supervisor told me he didn't care if I had receipts from the Liquor Store. I had to pay $211 to get my car back."

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
davcar2009
davcar2009

I lived their in 2001-2002 it wasn't that bad.. I returned in 2011 what a nightmare Parking was .. It 's not just the Tow companies... Miami Dade Parking are total Scum.. Their Policy is $$$..Fuck the TOURIST I will never set foot in South Beach again. Go some where else is my Advice...

FredF
FredF

simple, boycott businesses  that tows


See a towing sign, don't shop there.  ever. 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

FOXY BROWN and RED COW are both connected to ALL COUNTY TOWING who is a vendor in BOTH parking lots for those restaurants - so be warned YOU may be subject to unnecessary RISK of exposure to possible PREDITORY TOWING

ASK MANAGEMENT of these establishments how many of their patrons cars were TOWED and under what circumstances BEFORE you go

being overserved and doing the smart thing of taking a cab home leaving YOUR CAR in those lots and you may find your car in the ALL COUNTY TOWING yard nearby the next day - DO NOT EXPECT restaurant management to advise you of this as they may be compensated for both the cab fare and towing charge AT YOUR EXPENSE

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

AMERICAN SOCIAL - YOYO

RED COW - YOYO = WARNING the LOT is monitored by a PREDITORY TOWING operator as defined by CITY OF SUNRISE (ALL COUNTY TOWING) meaning they have many many complaints against them and were responsible for many aggresive towing tactics including BLACK FRIDAY whereby 200 plus cars were towed in a planned operation from the Sawgrass Mills Mall

TAP 42 - VPPA free #65

IL MULINO - VPPA free #50

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

another promotion from AMERICAN SOCIAL which offers PAID PARKING at $10 an hour and UP and NO they do not validate parking so again be aware of the additional cost in your BUDGET to include PARKING (and another reason to maybe go to TAP42 which has an entire parking lot of FREE PARKING !)

see how easy this can be !

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

here for example is RED COW RESTAURANT review with NO MENTION of parking and WHO does the TOWING in their LOT (while directly across the street IL MULINO has ample free parking available !)

RED COW RESTAURANT is just a few miles from the tow yard of ALL COUNTY TOWING

i would suspect this promotion to be really a DEAL to include a $251 towing charge

why should i risk being towed by ALL COUNTY TOWING a publicly identified PREDITORY towing operation here in broward with dozens of complaints in that area when i can PARK RISK FREE elsewhere

SEE HOW EASY it is to infor the PUBLIC

likewise the public SHOULD KNOW who does the towing where they park - IF IT IS ALL COUNTY TOWING chnaces are good you are being spotted as you ARRIVE and will be towed

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

so here is what NT can do for it's readers - EVERY promotion in NT should include detailed information about WHERE TO PARK when going to the EVENT / RESTAURANT / BAR etc ................this way those VENDORs that HAVE PARKING available for thier patron CAN BE REWARDED = period

YOYO = means (Y)ou're (O)n (Y)our (O)wn........and probably will be either TOWED or GOUGED a fee for parking

VPPA free #100 = means (V)endor (P)rovided (P)arking (A)vailable for free with 100 spots

VPPA $$$ #50 = means (V)endor (P)rovided (P)arking (A)vailable for $30 ($ for each $10) with 50 spots

NOGO = means the entire promotion is intended to LURE unsuspecting drivers to park in that open lot across the street that looks to be PUBLIC but is really the reason for the promotion in the first place so budget the extra $241 for the tow and another $58 for the cab ride to the towing yard

EDUCATE YOUR READERs to AVOID THESE SCAMs including CITING those restaurants and bars that HAVE NO AVAILABLE parking ! ! !

the BEST DEFENSE is to EDUCATE US ! ! !

Rich Stroes
Rich Stroes

Yup.. major scumbags.. as is the city that endorse them...drivers are thugs ala Dirty Blondes bouncers. . Simple though...Just ignore So Be..

Brian Bartlett
Brian Bartlett

Easy solution, Forget the fakeness Sobe, just don't go because beers are $15, rum drinks are $20 and every a$$ monkey and gold digger on the planet revolves around SOBE.

George Nemeth
George Nemeth

jennifer lopez is a washed-up mtv slut who represents this tv b.s. Boycott her songs then download them for free. Fat ass!

Tim Kling
Tim Kling

The valet company was a third party company that runs multiple hotels on the strip. The owners were extremely hard to get a hold of and refused to pay for repairs as well. They said that we were parking at our own risk and that as a courtesy the only way that they would fix the car was if I used their specific shop that they have a racket with. Rather than be inconvenienced by leaving my car in Miami for repairs for who knows how long (I live in Broward), we bent the hood down so that it would latch again and I am just living with the damage. As for the LR Disco, I don't know the outcome - lost touch.

Tim Kling
Tim Kling

I did not know that Tremont now has the same owners as the Shelbourne. I valet'ed my Honda Element and my friend's Land Rover Discovery last year at the Shelbourne and BOTH cars came back with appalling damage. The honda's hood was crushed as if it ran into a gate as it was closing and the Discovery's roof rack was ripped off. After multiple phone calls, they refused to pay for repairs.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

This is crazy!! You gotta love a city that puts up no parking signs and then tows the cars that were legally parked and sends that biz to these horrible companies. I hardly ever go to So. Beach because of these type of behavior. The business in this city that work to attract people should be up in arms.

 
Miami Concert Tickets
Loading...