Police recovered 31 vehicles and laid more than 250 charges following an eight-week investigation into tow truck companies in the Greater Toronto Area.
Dubbed Project Bondar, the focus of the investigation was to ensure compliance with legislation and also to meet with and educate tow truck providers on best practices and consumer protection laws.
“The DRPS had received numerous complaints from motorists who said they were charged exorbitant fees for towing their vehicles after collisions,” reads a media release.
“Other complaints included vehicles stolen from private property and storage yards charging a high fee to release previously-towed vehicles.”
According to police, search warrants were executed in Brampton, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Whitby.
“The team recovered 31 vehicles, some of which were stolen and others were unlawfully towed. They had a value of approximately $900,000, including two luxury vehicles (Ferrari 488 and BMW M4) and eight tow trucks, two of which were burnt,” the media release reads.
The project team laid 149 charges under the Provincial Offences Act charges, 92 under the Consumer Protection act and 17 under the Criminal Code.
“The DRPS would like to thank the numerous partners who assisted in this project, including the Insurance Bureau of Canada, major insurance companies, the Toronto Police Service, the O.P.P. and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation,” the release reads.
The DRPS is also offering the following tips for motorists to protect themselves.
– Know what your insurance policy covers. See if you have roadside assistance coverage and what the limits are. If you’ve been in a collision, find out how your car insurance company handles towing and how much your insurer will cover;
– Don’t let a towing operator take your vehicle until you view a Government of Ontario Towing Consumer Bill of Rights. You should be shown a towing and storage rate sheet listing towing fees, daily storage fees (if any), and all other miscellaneous charges;
– You should be given a copy of an ‘Authorization to Tow’ form that includes where your vehicle will be towed to as well as the driver’s name and contact information;
– Make sure that the company name on the town truck matches the documentation and do not agree to a demand for a cash payment to release your vehicle without consulting your insurance company first;
– Do not give out your insurance information. Some fraudulent tow operators use this information for additional scams, like calling the victim and pretending to be their insurer or providing it to a health practitioner; and,
– If you suspect fraud or if the tow truck driver refuses to leave, call the police.