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Tell Us Your Worst South Beach Towing Horror Stories

Thumbnail image for Towcover2.jpg
Peter O'Toole
For three seasons, reality television show junkies have tuned into South Beach Tow on the cable channel truTV to catch the absurd hi-jinks that occur when someone's car is jacked by Tremont Towing, one of the two companies that hitch cars in Miami Beach. Cameras follow Tremont employees as they go around the city picking up cars and getting into nasty confrontation with vehicle owners.

Of course, it's all a set up. Produced by a company owned by pop diva Jennifer Lopez, South Beach Tow implements over-the-top, staged reenactments of the day-today operations of Tremont. "I think the reality show is stupid, bizarre and cheesy," says Jonah Wolfson, one of four MIami Beach city commissioners who last year voted to give Tremont and its friendly competitor Beach Towing a tow rate increase.

"It is just another way for [Tremont] to make more money," Wolfson adds. "They look like schmucks."

See also: Beware of South Beach Tow Companies

And there is nothing entertaining about the real incidents involving irate car owners who show up at the Tremont and Beach Towing yards to get back their rides. For this week's cover story, New Times dug up the true-to-life complaints, lawsuits, and police incident reports that show towing on Miami Beach is not some Hollywood adventure.

Just recently, on June 4, Beach Towing manager Javier Gonzalez called the cops after a black Acura TL circled his tow yard twice. Four men in the car shouted obscenities at him. One of the suspects allegedly hurled a bottle at the building. A couple of hours later, the cops tracked down the driver, 19-year-old Adam Phillip-Nazar, at his apartment building. According to the incident report, Phillip-Nazar fessed up. "I know why you are here," he said. "Yes I threw that bottle."

The cops didn't take Phillip-Nazar to jail, but charged him with criminal mischief misdemeanor and gave him a notice to appear in court.

On April 17, 49-year-old MIami Beach resident Reiner Hondares allegedly attacked Gonzalez when he went to get his car out. According to the incident report, Gonzalez refused to release Hondares' ride because the man was "visibly intoxicated." An enraged Hondares allegedly punched Gonzalez on the side of his left temple. Gonzalez responded with a flurry of punches, striking Hondares in the left eye. Neither man was arrested.

The month before that, on March 12, Tremont Vice-President Many Diaz Jr. and his employee Wilmore Tapanes allege that Ariel Cusnir, the 42-year-old owner of 2010 Ford F-150, was so angry his pick-up truck got towed that he ran over Tapanes on his way out. According to the incident report, the Tremont employees claim Cusnir was backing his truck up when he intentionally hit Tapanes, who fell to the ground and complained of an injury to his left rib area. Cops reviewed video footage at the tow yard and concluded there was no evidence of criminal intent on Cusnir's part.

These are just a small sample of the crazy, volatile situations that happen whenever Beach Towing or Tremont hook a car. Now New Times wants to hear from you the readers.

Tell us your horror stories about getting towed in Miami Beach in the comments section. We'll reprint the best responses in a follow-up blog.

Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter:
@thefrankness.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.



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22 comments
zdanklou
zdanklou

I was not towed in Miami Beach but I think my story is one of the craziest. I was in London and let my friend use my car for a couple of days in South Miami. On May 17th my car, an H2 Hummer was towed by a company called Whitt Tow Away inc. My friend called me and told me only me could get the car released. I called the Towing Company which address is 13800 SW 136 court in Miami. I tried to get my car released to my friend in vain. I sent them a notarized letter thru DHL and they received the letter on June 5 but the company won't release the car to my friend because they said I misspelled the name of the company. I came back to Miami on June 23 and went to the towing company on June 24 to pay for my car and get it back. I was told the car was sold on June 22 at a public auction. I then filed a complaint with the consumer protection bureau at the Miami -Dade County. Upon investigations, the consumer protection bureau told me the towing company is saying that my car was torched in their storage unit on July 7. An agent of the company even called to tell me that. I was taken aback. I went to pay for my car on June 24th and I was told the car was sold on june 22 but it was all lie. They still had the car and were trying to sell it and they kept the car until July 7 when it was allegedly burned by someone they don't know.

Matthew James
Matthew James

Anastasia, sorry to hear about your bike. I had an '91 FZR1000, luckily it was never towed as I never parked it in Miami Beach. The first time I even heard of beach towing was when my VW Jetta car was towed from a gated, Handicapped spot with proper decal at the Flamingo condo. Since then, I have moved to leave Miami Beach due to the horrible infrastructure (Construction every block and terrible salt water flooding). I love Sunny Isles Beach!

Ariana Hernandez Reguant
Ariana Hernandez Reguant

this is absolutely outrageous. how can they get away wit h this? if they steal cars from private lots where the cars are legally parked, and nobody called them, that's theft!

Anastasia Biltmore
Anastasia Biltmore

They towed my FZR600 Motorcycle back in 1994 froma legal parking spot in my building's garage and told me they "found the frame in a canal they were pulling cars out of" later. They STOLE my bike, stripped it, and then tried to get me to pay a "recovery fee" for the frame because they "found it in a canal". MY neighbor told me they hooked the bike form our garage because he SAW them do it. I reported this incident when they stole it to MBPD when it happened. They DENIED towing or having the bike- then a year later I get a call demanding a "recovery fee". These people are THIEVES. Also, in about 2008, they towed my Cadillac and stole a 300.00 pair of Dior glasses and a 1/2 full bottle of perfume out of it. They take what they want and the consumer has NO RECOURSE. The city is COMPLICIT with their crimes. DISGUSTING!!

Sergio Alejandro
Sergio Alejandro

^ Not the brightest thing to post on a public forum given the fact that a Miami tow-truck driver was killed recently.

no1lady
no1lady

I also had an incident with them, I paid and parked in a lot off of Alton and 10th next to Starbucks and across from Whole Foods.  I paid the fee at a meter and went on my way to 8oz burger.  Apparantley though (and in a very small sign) it stated that after 12 midnight that lot closed and your car would be towed.  So of course, when I arrived at 12:20 my car and my friends were gone.  Here I thought I was being sage by parking in a lot where you pay..but for some reason it decides to close at midnight for no reason whatsoever.  My car had been in their lot for less than an hour (this was Tremont of course) and I still had to pay $240...ALL CASH.  Well I have learned my lesson and will never park anywhere in SoBe without reading all signs.  And since my friend did not pay the $5 fee. she also got ticketed.  total racket!

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

if they ever tow my car, i will shoot at them, problem solved

GODisGREAT
GODisGREAT

Just today I saw a young girl crying as a result of a towing racket. She parked at the Starbucks on 27th and Coral Way and within 30 seconds the tow truck sped out from behind a wall, almost running into me head on, in an effort to get her car hooked up before she noticed. She immediately did and ran back, trying to get in the car and move it, but a large security officer was there holding her back, forecfully, from the car. All she wanted was a coffee. The parking lot is not well-marked and it's a notorious free-for-all, and these savages want to punish a young girl for it. It's shameful. Let's have a "no tow" day and see how property owners feel about it. Or at least a day when the only tows are ones reported by property owners. 


Someone needs to have the balls to bring this mafia down, because if the cops are scared of them, that's what it must be a ....... a MAFIA

Natalie Guillen
Natalie Guillen

They towed me . There was all this glass all over the floor so I wasn't sure if my car was stolen or towed. I called the tow lots they said they didn't have my car. So I called the police to file the report at 11:30.I kept calling the tow companies with the police there to make sure the car wasn't in there tow lot. It finally took the police calling them at 3 am saying that the car was going to be report stolen. My car mysteriously appears in the lot and its been there for hrs. When I go to pick it up I got charged for an extra day because they denied having my car. Wasted the my time and the police officers .

Brenna
Brenna

I was waiting at a the red light in front of The Corner in Downtown Miami when a Molina Towing Tow Truck slammed into the back of my car. The driver appeared intoxicated and had a cooler in the cab of his truck. The MDPD officer on the scene did not breathalyze him because she said she knew him and according to her, "he just acts that way". After talking to her friend, the driver, for a good five minutes and never once asking me for my version of the incident, she let the tow truck driver go without as much as a warning and left me with a ticket for Reckless Driving. (I was stopped at a red light? Not moving? Yet I was issued the moving violation.) To top it all off, my friend that was recording videos of the whole incident on his phone with me was called a "faggot" by another officer on the scene, which I can only assume he did to try to intimidate my friend out of continuing to ask for badge numbers and record the officers. The damage to the car was severe enough to require a tow to my home. Fortunately, I was towed home by a company other than Molina towing.

Alex Nra Shemin
Alex Nra Shemin

They towed my car in North Bay Village when I was legally parked with a pass at my girlfriends house, during thanksgiving. Who does that on thanksgiving?! these people have no families due to their hardwork on thanksgiving it seems. So I Had to take a bus all the way to the location around midnight, I also worked at 7 am so it was a huge inconvenience. Once I arrived, very full from thanksgiving dinner, they wouldn't give me my car due to my name not being on the registration. The car was still in my mothers name, so she had to wake up and drive to South Beach from Doral at midnight maybe 1am. Because the registration was in the car they still denied my mother and I the car. But they knew her name was on it cause the checked to see if my name was on it 1st. We had the $210 cash for the "fine" though I was parked legally. Because we refused to leave without the car they locked me my mom and my gf in the room and wouldn't let us leave the waiting room or enter the garage. This was all during thanksgiving too. Eventually something clicked in the idiot women's head behind the counter. She went into the glove compartment after our consent was given an hour before this, and got the registration. My mom, gf and I said some words and they kept far away from me when I walked in to get my car after. Did I mention this was happened during midnight to 1am after thanksgiving, while I was legally parked at my girlfriends building, in North Bay Village. $210 fine! Also the North Bay village and South Beach police did nothing to help me when I tried reporting it after it happened. I believe I still have the pass that allowed me to park overnight in that lot too. Be careful residents and visitors of the Miami beach area!

jarar
jarar

My friend parked illegally blocking a driveway entrance to a construction site across the street from my building on 14th and Pennsylvania Ave. He came inside to get a Zone 2 parking pass from me and in no less than 5 mins his car was being towed. We both ran outside to the car but the tow truck driver continued to place the car on tow and lifted it after we arrived, only to speed off so fast we were pushed away by the car being towed. We immediately got into my car and followed the two truck. We found him pulled over on 13th and Meridian, having a Miami Beach Parking Officer issuing my friends car a citation and tow request. Completely illegal and unethical. They refused to drop the car. Complete scam

MaineCane
MaineCane

Tremont towed my boyfriends car from his apartment parking lot (despite having a parking sticker clearly visible) on Easter Sunday. After having to cab it to mass with his mom, we went to pick up the car. They argued that there was no pass on it, it wasn't until I insisted they walk back and look, that they realized they had in fact towed a perfectly legal car (which means they stole it in my opinion). While they gave the car back with no fees, the also didnt make us fill out any paperwork. Makes you wonder how often this happens. I notified the MB parking department to file a complaint and was told there was nothing the city could do because the company didnt do anything wrong. Aparently they are allowed to steal cars now too!

Mario Francisco Garcia
Mario Francisco Garcia

I was towed by Tremont Towing on South Beach. When I had finally figured out that there was a probability I had been towed, I began calling the tow companies on the beach. I called Tremont, they claimed my car wasn't there. Fine. I believed my car to be stolen, so, I spent the next day calling the cops, filing a report, calling my insurance company, renting a car. The next day the cops show up to my apartment. My car was found in the Tremont lot and because it had been sitting there for 2 days I had to pay OUTRAGEOUS overnight fees, plus towing fees etc. etc... I called and complained but I got the run around about a different night manager, "I don't know what your talking about," "must've been an oversight" all to the tune of around $600. They are such a scam.

verdisvioletta
verdisvioletta

@zdanklou I would be surprised if a friend of the towing company didn't buy it. That said, I'm surprised you didn't redo the notary letter to get the car released right away. An H2 is a pretty expensive vehicle. Since you did not abandon the vehicle, hopefully at least you had comprehensive insurance covering the value. I hope you made an insurance claim. It is still not too late.  

verdisvioletta
verdisvioletta

@Sergio Alejandro I am in no way advocating any violent behavior toward any tow truck driver that is just doing their job.  That tow truck driver's death was absolute murder. Nobody deserves to be shot or assaulted while on the job. That said, I will ABSOLUTELY speak up about Beach towing's theft of my property and MBPDs refusal to do anything about it. Mine is not the only complaint.  EVERYTHING in the story is 100% TRUE. 

HarryTheHandyman
HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

@Donnie Donnie No, the problems will have just begun for you.

HarryTheHandyman
HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

@jarar
"
My friend parked illegally blocking a driveway entrance to a construction site..."

"Completely illegal and unethical. They refused to drop the car. Complete scam "

Yea totally illegal and unethical to tow a car which was, by your admission, illegally parked!

zdanklou
zdanklou

@verdisvioletta @zdanklou I made an insurance claim and also filing a lawsuit. I tried to redo a notarized letter but the towing company agents said they will only take one notarized at a U.S embassy. I went to the embassy in London and I have to make an appointment. The only spot available was the 25th of June. I was coming back on the 23rd. It was like a series of bad luck but what I still can't understand is that I tried to pay for my car on the 24th and they told me it was sold on the 22nd of June. and they told the consumer protection bureau it was burned on the 7th of July. I feel like I am in a movie.

jarar
jarar

Selective reading on your part. You missed the part about my friend arriving back to the car before it was lifted. The tow driver striking us both with the car being towed as he sped off. Parking citations and tow requests are by law required to be issued before a tow can begin, not after it had begun two blocks away.

So yes, totally illegal and unethical. Hopefully you'll get a taste of the same one day and that will change your opinion.

HarryTheHandyman
HarryTheHandyman topcommenter

@jarar I'll just avoid illegally parking anywhere and staying out of the cesspool that is Miami Beach.

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