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Long IslandNassau

Town of Hempstead clamps down on towing fraud

Hempstead Town Hall is seen in this undated

Hempstead Town Hall is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Ian J. Stark

Supervisor Anthony Santino and the town board have approved legislation to help protect residents from fraud and to provide a thorough vetting of applicants seeking to provide towing services in the town.

The new policies combat unscrupulous practices, including where tow truck operators seek out accident scenes and victimize people. They also aim to protect drivers from the non-consensual removal of their vehicles from private parking lots. Under the new law, tow operators must wait 15 minutes before towing a car from the parking lot, and release it for a nominal fee (at least a 40 percent discount off the regular rate) if the owner returns while the car is being hooked up.

Santino said: “We are strengthening our laws to protect our residents and to also provide for fair competition among those in the towing industry.”

The legislation also establishes an orderly system for the safe and expeditious removal of damaged or disabled motor vehicles from roadways; to supervise the control and operation of non-consensual towing businesses within the town; to ensure that towing services for the removal of damaged and disabled vehicles from public highways are performed pursuant to a rotational list and vehicles are removed to locations where they are safely and securely stored. Moreover, no repairs to a vehicle can be made until an agreement is signed by the owner.

The legislation requires companies to maintain secure storage terminals that are open to vehicle owners Monday to Friday and one weekend day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a minimum. They must release a vehicle within 60 minutes from the time of the owner’s request. Companies must accept cash and credit cards. If operators are not compliant with the new policies, they face newly increased fines and their license can be suspended or revoked for towing in the town. The law passed June 21.

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