Tempe Changes Rules on Towing to Prevent Companies From Scamming Drivers

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toy tow truck 1 cars.jpg

Downtown Tempe will no longer be the feeding ground of disreputable towing companies, thanks to changes by the city council.

Visitors to the urban hotspot around Mill Avenue fell victim for years to highly aggressive towing companies that hooked vehicles up within minutes of an errant parking job. Hapless drivers were shaken down for scandalous amounts of money, their vehicles literal hostages. Tammy Leitner of Channel 5 (KPHO-TV) had a good report two years ago on the situation.

The city has finally responded to the aggravation and complaints with a slew of changes.

Under the new rules, towing companies must:

*Accept rental and lease agreements as proof of ownership.
*Allow owners and renters to get inside a vehicle to retrieve proof-of-ownership documents. (Can you believe the bastards sometimes didn't let people do this?)
*Accept credit card and debit card payments for listed fees. (To prevent the typical shakedown for cash).
*Charge no extra fees for paying with cards. (This is a pre-emptive move -- the city knows these companies well).
*Charge no fee beyond what is "specifically authorized by Tempe City Code." (As the KPHO example shows, in 2007 the max fee was $120, but Leitner was asked to pay $180).

In addition:

Private towing companies are now required to notify the Tempe Police Department prior to towing, immobilizing or transporting the vehicle. The ordinance previously allowed tow companies to make that notification within one hour after the tow. This will allow the police department to quickly resolve issues regarding whether a vehicle has been towed or stolen.

The changes go into effect on June 29. But even then, don't expect the towing companies to explain the rules to you as your car's front end hangs in the air.

Asking for a couple of hundred bucks in cash from a desperate car owner is a habit that won't die easily.

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watch out in tempe, i had my car towed by "go tow" in the vista del sol parking lot while going in to get a parking pass, i had them bring my car back after complaining to the management at vista del sol and they dropped it causing front end damage, it had a flat tire and obvious damage and the driver says what damage, what an idiot, i am making it my lifelong goal to make 'go tow" have as miserable as a day that i had and hope they lose $1000 just like i did to get my car fixed


Swat Towing, listed address as located at PO Box 3455 in Tempe, Az 85280, Phone 480-644-9839 FAX 480-963-8771, actually tows vehicles from the city of  Scottsdale to 310 So. Alma School in Mesa, Az.  Are Swat towing's "numbnuts" allowed to tow illegaly parks cars from a Scottsdale parking lot to their place of business in Mesa, AZ with a license issued in Tempe, AZ?  How can this be?


All City Towing does not own S.W.A.T towing Auto city towing owns it. Please get your info right.  


Tempe is still a hotbed for crooked and aggressive towing company practices. I had my car towed tonight and the vehicle was not taken to the impound yard for an hour after it was picked up! Where did that driver go with my car? and how come he did not release it to me when I requested him to do so as required by law. Enough is enough. I'm sick of Tempe and it problems that they let thieves and cheats drive tow trucks around and victimize motorists every chance they get so that they can steal their money. I am no longer visiting Tempe/Mill Ave. It's become to scummy and unruly. Until they make major changes and crack down on these towing companies, I'm going to take my business elsewhere!

Bye Bye Tempe. You used to be nice and now you're turning into a scummy low class place.

Brett Johnson
Brett Johnson

I haven’t yet decided if I believe Robbie Pfeffer (manager/clerk that day) is an active/willing participant of this malicious cash cow, he may have simply been absent minded and negligent when he failed to let the tow truck driver know I was waiting for the pass.

And the owner of The Fixx (Sandra Arthur, who I believe is renting the building from the lot owner) who arrived half way through seemed genuine, and almost beat down by the situation. She apologized, and she even refunded the $5 I paid for the pass. I suspect she feels as helpless and abused by the parking lot owner…as the people who park there feel (you and me).

Sandra Arthur is the owner of Fixx from what I can tell, but not the owner of land or building...to my understanding: http://www.tempe.gov/planning/... )

I don’t think she receives any kickbacks…I think she’s simply at the mercy of her landlord, who gets to make all the rules, and all the manipulative parking lot signs. If I feel like a victim, bullied, scammed, and intimidated at every encounter...I can only imagine how she feels being at their mercy everyday. It's the closest thing to a mafia I have ever witnessed. I'm stupified by what I've stumbled into.

I don't beleive that David Sweetman actually owns the lot. I can't find anything other than user comments that make this claim. I beleive this is a false rumor. Everything I can find tells me Mario Sanchez is the owner...of the entire north half of the block spanning from Mill to Myrtle.

Brett Johnson
Brett Johnson

The first time I ever parked in this lot was on 3/29/2011. Here’s a video of how poorly marked the lot still is today. When I went back to video tape their impressive speed, the tow truck driver threatened me, called the cops for filming him without his permission, and followed me to my truck taunting me, trying to get me to lay a finger on him so he could beat me up. He then followed me in his truck west on University, cut me off just before Priest, slammed on the breaks and tried to cause an accident, even putting his truck in reverse and backing right up to me, putting it in park with his lights on…and nobody in front of him with a green light. I was almost rear ended too. After cars behind me were finally able to back up and go around, I too was able to back up far enough to get around him, and then he continued to follow me to multiple parking lots…after threatening me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Well this really upset me…so I went back the next day to watch how they do it so quickly from the raised walkway to the north. The very first tow I watched was an illegal tow. They never even got out of the truck. They backed up to it, and they took off with it. To my knowledge, it’s against the law to leave the property without securing their load. You can see that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... (He did get out while he phoned it in to the police, just not to secure it)

Then I decided to go back and see what this parking pass thing is all about. So I parked in their lot on Friday afternoon, walked directly into The Fixx, requested a $5 all day parking pass, and an Iced Coffee. No sooner did I complete my order, the tow truck driver comes walking through the door to check the list…while I’m standing there waiting for my coffee and parking pass!!!

I didn’t hear the clerk chirping up to tell him my car was in the lot, and I knew he hadn’t written my vehicle description down anywhere. My jaw dropped and I gasped as I realized what was happening right before my eyes. I flipped out my phone and recorded him leaving The Fixx. As I waited for my coffee and parking pass…I watched him out the window looking at my truck…on the phone with the police. By the time I received my coffee and parking pass and walked outside…he was already hooked up and ready to tow my truck. I recorded the audio of the entire event, and there’s some footage too. Even after walking into the coffee shop and having the employees verify my story, WHILE holding the parking pass, the receipt, AND the coffee my hand the entire time…he STILL threatened to tow it…and started leaving with my truck because he didn’t like me telling him to “drop my shit and leave me alone”…!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

They have to drop it by law, for free...if the owner arrives and is willing to move it.

Sec 32-8 "If the driver or owner of the vehicle returns prior to the removal of the vehicle from the property, the private tow carrier shall release the vehicle and no fee shall be charged." http://www.tempe.gov/citycode/...

The owner of the parking lot and this tow company are scum!




Yeah i just got towed last night. Im from NY and they did not care that i was on vacation and had to get my rental car back the next day. $135.00 and.two hrs later i got my car back. Whata scam. They say they had me on surveilance at 7:35 going to pf changs across the street from the mill st lot in tempe. The sign says permit parking park only 7:00 am- 8:00 pm. Now how would you take that? I took it as i could park after 8:00. What sleds would tow me if i was just a few minutes early. There was a couple other cars there only one had a tag of some sort. I am going to call tempe police to see if the intact called prior to towing me and what time. There ticket says dispatched at 7:00 and arrived at 7:35 pm. We did not get there in that lot until 7:45 pm. At that time one car left. Thedodge pick up with this bogus permit was left. You would figure that the city would post or surrounding would tell guests not to park there as it is a scam. Will make calls calls but being an out of towner it would behoove you locals to combat this with courtfilings and complaints. I can say though. What would an arizona trip be without a little adventure. Hope you guys can shut them sucking leeches down. Beware!


I know the owner of monster towing. He is a scum bag that laughs abt stealing peoples cars. He makes his money off taking peoples vehicles and if you can't afford to get it out of the impound lot after a certain amount of time you forfeit your vehicle and he re-titles it and sells it. Most likely to pay for beer, pot and cheating on his wife. He's a real winner. I would not do any sort of business w this guy. His name is David.

Brett Johnson
Brett Johnson

I stand corrected...Sandra Arthur is a business partner of David Sweetman...the owner of Monster Impound and Recovery. See here: http://starpas.azcc.gov/script....

Apparently they own the business known as The Fixx...and they're renting the space from Mario Sanchez...who owns the north half of the entire block, all the way from Mill ave to Myrtle Ave, see here: http://www.tempe.gov/planning/...

So the tow company and the Fixx...are owned by the same people. What a racket!!!

According to this document, The Fixx property only includes the 7 parking spaces to the south, the parking lot across the alley to the west...is not theirs. That belongs to Mario Sanchez, it is unrelated to the space The Fixx is renting. http://www.tempe.gov/planning/...

Now this is where it gets interesting...

"Sec. 32-5. Authority to tow. (a) It shall be unlawful for a private towing carrier to tow or transport a motor vehicle from private property or immobilize a vehicle on private property without the permission of the owner or operator of the vehicle unless such private towing carrier receives a request from a law enforcement agency or the express written permission from the owner of the property or the agent of the owner, who has complied with requirements of this section. The owner or the owner’s agent shall either sign each towing order or authorize the tow by a written contract which is valid for a specific length of time not to exceed one year. The private towing carrier may not act as the agent of the owner." http://www.tempe.gov/citycode/...

Read that last part again...

"The private towing carrier may not act as the agent of the owner."

If the owners of The Fixx (who owns Monster Towing)...are the ones authorizing tows from the lot to their west...and there is no contract between Monster and Mario Sanchez (who owns the lot)...then the tow company is acting as the owners representative to authorize tows from a lot other than The Fixx's parking lot.

If that is the case...it's illegal (to my understanding).

I'll be looking further into this matter...

If anyone has additional information, please post it.


Dump your clunkers on this lot and other garbage.

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