Imagine having your car towed from a perfectly legal parking space.
It’s an allegation made by numerous motorists against Chicago towing giant Rendered Services. And NBC5 Investigates has learned that the company is under criminal investigation by Chicago Police, which raided its offices last fall.
“I didn’t park illegally,” says West Loop resident Sean Bresnahan. “I didn’t do anything to deserve it!”
Bresnahan alleges that Rendered Services actually moved his car from a legal spot, to an illegal space nearby, before towing it away. He says Chicago Police told him they even retrieved footage from a building security camera, which documented the entire episode.
“They called me a couple of days later,” he said. “Say they saw the footage and interviewed the witness, and he said, it looks like they stole your car from the street!”
Rendered Services refused to comment directly on the allegations. But in a statement, the company’s attorney said “Rendered Services has not seen any evidence to suggest any institutional wrongdoing on the company’s part.”
A Chicago police source confirmed the investigation, and that computers and various records were seized in the raid on the company’s offices near 36th and Iron.
Others in Bresnahan’s building say they observed drivers for Rendered Services moving cars.
“We were walking down Kinzie on the south side of the street, and while we were walking, a tow truck drove by us very quickly,” said resident Evan Scott, who said he watched and even photographed the car being moved. “It dropped off a car without stopping, just let off a car in that area.”
Later, Scott said he saw the driver retrieve the car and tow it away.
“Came back 30 minutes later and saw the guy pick up that car and started driving away,” he said. “He looked like he had done this a million times before.”
Rendered Services does big business in Chicago. Records filed with the state indicate that in 2012, the company towed some 22,000 cars, reporting over $4 million in revenue.
But NBC5 Investigates reviewed scores of complaints filed by angry motorists against the company with the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Illinois Attorney General. Many telling remarkably similar stories of having cars yanked out of legitimate parking spaces.
“You know, these companies get away with murder,” said North Side resident Bill Milosz, who filed a complaint after he said a Rendered Services driver tried to tow his car from a spot where he was legally parked at a neighborhood drug store. “I ran in front of the tow truck waving my CVS bag saying, why are you towing my car?”
Milosz says he eventually convinced the driver to release his car after threatening to call the police. But others have not been quite so persuasive. The company has been cited scores of times by the Illlnois Commerce Commission for allegedly towing cars from areas where they have no jurisdiction. Out of 140 citations written by the ICC police reviewed by NBC5, only 34 were sustained. But the police source confirmed that their investigation of the firm continues.
“Rendered Services would be pleased to cooperate with any investigation by the Illinois Commerce Commission Police authorities regarding the allegations at issue,” the company’s statement said. “Rendered Services requires all of its drivers to be licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Licensure by the Commission involves a detailed background check.”
An ICC spokesman said the agency is assisting the Chicago Police Department in their investigation.