Watch out for the security guard
If you didn’t know, most big shopping centers have a security guard. These Security Guards are often paid to have your car impounded. The Towing company will approach the security guard and offer him cash for his phone call and signature to have your car removed from the property. A big towing company in San Diego was big on offering security guards in shopping centers and apartment complexes a reward and benefits that ranged from gift certificates to cash for their patronage. Quickly these security guards learn how they can increase their wages by quickly signing on to the tow trucks program. When that tow truck driver arrives at the shopping center he will first want the security guards signature on a form. On this signed form it will include the license number and a general description of the car. The car is gone and the tow truck driver just handed your security guard $50 cash. Anything that looks illegal to the security guard and he will now have it towed away at the owner’s expense. He or she just made $50 and they want to make more.
As the car owner, you have no idea what just happened to your car. Maybe you just got done shopping at a big grocery store and returned not to find your car? The inconvenience and aggravation that has just come upon you can reveal itself. Then it’s the expense, time, and effort to find and retrieve your car. Let alone missing items or damage to your car. All because of the stalking security guard and the slimy towing company.
This practice is both illegal and somewhat common. Actually, I haven’t seen this security guard/ towing company collusion in 20 years until May 10th of 2017 when it almost happened to myself.
I parked at my local Von’s store in the afternoon just after 2 pm. The parking lot was half full. Many ideal parking spots very close to the entrance. I parked 300 feet away, backed into two parking places diagonally. I was tucked between the curb on one side and a small Fiat on the other side. No one is going to park near me and give me the notorious door ding. Maybe a little too cautious for getting a couple items from the grocery store. Gone no more than 20 minutes.
I return to find this security guard hunched down watching my parked Jeep. He’s 30 feet away and talking on his phone while his eyes never leave my jeep. I walk to the passenger door and put my four items from the store on the passenger seat. He runs to me and says is this your jeep? An obvious answer at this point. He then tells me that it was parked illegally and he has a tow truck on the way. He quickly calls the towing company to cancel the job. I said, “you think my car is parked illegally”? I took his picture then walked away from my jeep and took another picture. Then I took a few pictures of the parking lot. Why would this guy want my car impounded? How could he think my parking was illegal? I was shocked that this was going to happen without my quick return.
I since learned a neighbor had a very similar experience in the same parking lot six weeks prior. Most likely, the towing company solicited this security guard, offered him $50 or more, and would get his signature authorizing the tow. The security guard gets some extra money and the car is gone quickly.