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Woman fuming after being charged ‘drop fee’ at Southside shopping center

RICHMOND, Va. -- Viewers reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers concerned about predatory towing in South Richmond.

Diane Jones left a Monday shopping trip at the Food Lion on Jahnke Road furious after her encounter with a local towing company in the parking lot.

Jones said the owner of H & A Towing found her inside the store warning her she was about to be towed. She was accused of being illegally parked in a handicapped spot.

Diane Jones

Diane Jones

"I went outside and said, 'Why do you have me hooked up?'" she asked. "I was really angry and really upset."

Jones was told her disabled parking placard was not hanging on her rear view mirror. She insisted she hung up her placard prior to walking into the grocery store.

"[The tow truck driver] said, 'Look, it usually costs $150, but if you don’t want to pay the $150, I'll give you a break and you pay $50," Jones recalled.

Dustin Trebilco is owner of H & A Towing, which stands for Honest and Affordable Towing, located on Attmore Drive on Richmond's Southside. He said he was hired by Food Lion management after a rash of customers were parking illegally in the fire lane and handicapped spots.

"A lot of customers feel targeted when they are illegally parked," Trebilco explained. "Typically with any handicapped spot, my policy is we don’t just drag them out of the parking space. We make an announcement of the vehicle."

Trebilco stated he hooked up Jones' car because he could not see a disabled parking placard hanging on the mirror.

Trebilco said Jones paid him his $50 drop fee to avoid an outright tow from the parking lot.

Reporter Brendan King and Dustin Trebilco of H & A Towing.

Reporter Brendan King and Dustin Trebilco of H & A Towing.

CBS 6's Brendan King found that Richmond City Code of Ordinances does allow towing companies to charge a "drop fee," but only a maximum fee of $40.

"This fee may only be charged when the person conducting the towing has already hooked up the vehicle but has not yet removed the vehicle from private property and the vehicle's owner or vehicle owner's agent arrives to claim the vehicle and pay this fee. The person conducting the towing must release the vehicle to the vehicle's owner or the vehicle owner's agent in return for the payment of this fee," according to Sec. 27-302.

Trebilco stated he'd rather find the car owner instead of towing the car outright.

"They should receive a drop fee of $40, so typically in this scenario we will tow them from now on and not offer a drop fee," he said.

Richmond Police told CBS 6 that since the tow occurred on private property it is considered a civil matter.

A request for comment from Food Lion was not returned.

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