The 104th Precinct is cracking down on tow companies that are violating city law by racing to accident scenes in order to drum up autobody work. Over the years several complaints have been filed by citizens and legitimate tow operators about the practice of “chasing” where several tow trucks arrive at an accident scene. By law, the tow truck summoned by the police is the only one that may respond under New York City's “Directed Accident Response Program” (DARP). The program was created in the 1990’s after several traffic deaths were caused by tow trucks racing to accidents.

On October 9th the precinct staged a fake accident near Juniper Valley Park. The sting netted several violators. Over the last few weeks the precinct has continued to catch violators to the DARP program. The biggest violator was Impressive/B&M Auto Collision, a Maspeth-based company. They were issued 7 summonses for soliciting at an accident scene. According to police the tow drivers were also offered a $500 bounty to bring in a collision customer. Two of the drivers were arrested, one on a drug charge.

Another tow company caught in the sting was Redline Automotive & Collision. This company, based in Glendale, was caught in the October 9th sting but didn’t learn their lesson. According to police, the same driver, Guiseppe Seravolo, was caught again on November 17th and issued a summons for soliciting at an accident scene. Redline has been seen for the last few years racing to accident scenes, going down one-way streets etc.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses private companies that tow cars that block private driveways, are parked on private property, are immobilized after an accident, or have been stolen or appear to be abandoned, or have broken down. If you are in an accident or break down on the highway, you must use a licensed towing firm called by the police. You may not call your own tow truck. The truck summoned by the police is the only one that may respond under New York City's “Directed Accident Response Program” (DARP). But the towing firm, by law, must take your car wherever you say, within New York City.

Be sure the authorization you sign specifies towing only, not repairs or other services. Any other tow truck that appears at the accident scene is acting illegally. Advise the officer on the scene, or report such activity to your
local police precinct. Make a note of the tow driver's name, license plate number, and any other identifying information.

It looks like under the leadership of 104th Precinct Commanding Officer Christopher Manson and Executive Officer John Travaglia this illegal and dangerous practice of “chasing” may finally be curtailed.