Payment ordered for hundreds in illegal towing scam

Hundreds of people who had their cars illegally towed by a Redwood City towing company are a step closer to being reimbursed for the towing fees they paid.

San Mateo County prosecutors say Isabel Trujillo, the operator of Specialty Towing and Recovery Inc., has been ordered to pay $42,330 in penalties for illegally towing 283 cars from private parking garages and other private properties.

Of that money, prosecutors say $22,330 will go to the people who had their cars towed.

Deputy District Attorney Chuck Finney, who heads the San Mateo County District Attorney’s consumer and environmental unit, says over a period of seven years Trujillo’s towing company illegally towed cars that were parked on private properties — mostly from parking garages in Redwood City.

Finney, who has been with the office for 28 years, told SFBay:

“This is the biggest towing case I’ve ever had.”

At the time the cars were towed, the owners of the properties where the cars were towed from were not present — a violation of California’s vehicle code.

The towing company was also accused of charging excessive rates and of failing to provide a telephone number so that people could call and contest the circumstances of their cars being towed.

Finney says as part of the judgment, Specialty Towing will make monthly payments to the District Attorney’s office, with the payments going into a special trust account. As funds accumulate, the  money will be distributed to towing victims.

SFBay was not able to reach Specialty Towing for comment because a phone listing for the company had been disconnected. In February an attorney representing the company told the San Mateo County Times that any mistakes made by the company were made were unintentional.

Finney says people who have complaints about towing companies in San Mateo County can contact his office at (650) 363-4097.