CLEARWATER, Fla. - The water was rising, and some who live at Lake Star Crest Village feared for their cars. At one point it crested at the hood of Victoria Larsen’s Honda.
Larsen was among half a dozen tenants who moved their vehicles to higher ground at a vacant K-Mart lot Sunday night.
The next morning Larsen and others discovered they would weather more than just the storm. "My car was gone. It was devastating. I did not know if someone had stolen it," said Larsen.
A-1 Recovery says it towed the Honda and five other cars between late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Each owner paid $140 to get their cars back.
Residents say A-1 took advantage of people who were simply trying to protect their property.
I spoke with the owner of the towing company, Aaron Watkins. In an email, he wrote, "During a storm, people will sometimes move their property, RV's and such, onto private property to avoid damaging their own property, often creating a liability for someone else."
A-1 points out the lot is posted with signs at every entrance and suggested the people who moved their cars should have called A-1 beforehand.
"At $144 a pop, they made some money. I think it is wrong we are in the middle of a disaster that they came and towed people's vehicles,” said Larsen.
A-1 claims they have towed no cars since the governor declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Those who were towed can file a complaint with Pinellas County Consumer protection, who will make sure the signs were clearly posted and that A-1 does have a legitimate contract to tow from that lot.
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