WILMINGTON — Reports of vehicles being towed from property owned by the Elderhaus in Wilmington last week by Howard’s Towing were met with concern from concertgoers attending shows at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.
According to one member of staff for Elderhaus, the towing was not authorized or requested as she said concert attendees are always welcome to use the parking lot. But according to the Wilmington Police Department, the towing company does have a contract with Elderhaus and the towing was permitted.
The wording of that contract between the two private entities is not public record, but it has been confirmed that Elderhaus does have an agreement with the company to remove vehicles parked illegally.
Last week, Robin Nelson who works for Elderhaus, said that there is indeed a contract between the two companies but said she had not requested the towing and stated that the only time they want cars towed is overnight parking.
She also said she would be talking to Howard’s Towing and tell them to remove their signs from the property and replace them with ones that clearly state “no overnight parking.”
As of noon, Monday, the previous signs had been removed — no new signs have been installed at the time of publication.
Some people had made complaints that the towing company required them to pay in cash and would not accept cards to get their vehicles back, but according to WPD Spokeswoman Linda Thompson, this is legal.
Unlike neighboring Carolina Beach, Wilmington does not have a requirement that towing companies operating in city limits accept cash and cards from those retrieving vehicles.
Posted property and a private contract
When asked about the legality of the towing that took place over the past two weeks, Thompson reiterated that since there was a sign posted — and it is private property — the matter isn’t up to the police. it is between the two private companies.
“Elderhaus has parking signs in their parking lot warning people that violators would be towed,” she said.
While there might have been a longstanding agreement between concert attendees and Elderhaus, Thompson said she would still recommend people not to park in any location that has towing signs unless certain they are permitted to be on the lot.
The police department does require towing companies to report towing off private property within 30 minutes of the incident to help determine if vehicles have been stolen or just towed.
“In this situation, they [towing companies] are supposed to report it. They complete a form and fax it in. There are some situations that they don’t have to report it,” Thompson said.
Whether or not Howard’s followed the proper procedure is still under review and Thompson said she would let Port City Daily know once she does.
Port City Daily reached out to Howard’s Towing and Recovery to ask about refunds for those towed and their side of the story but at the time of publication have not heard back from the company. Since the towing was considered legal by police there is no criminal aspect to the events as of now and it is unlikely that the company will offer refunds to those towed.
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