HERRIMAN (ABC4) – A Herriman city councilmember and two of his constituents have a warning for the public tonight, after the residents fell victim to what they call “predatory towing.” It happened all within just a matter of two and a half minutes in front of their home. Although the couple admits they knew what they did was wrong, they said the tow truck driver’s behavior before and after the incident didn’t sit right with them.
Sheila Haddock and Adam Carroll, both of whom are former employees of ABC4, said they were unloading groceries last Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. Haddock’s car was parked in their driveway, while Carroll’s was parked on the street right in front of a “No Parking” sign. The pair live in townhome located in an HOA community.
“There’s not a lot of extra parking around here and there was not a spot at that point,” said Haddock. “There’s no option for you to carry your things in unless you park 8 minutes away.”
Surveillance video caught a tow truck driver driving by as the couple went inside and quickly hooking onto Carroll’s car while it was still running. Both immediately ran back outside to stop the tow truck driver from taking off. Haddock said the driver works for Swift Towing and refused to return the car until they paid him $85.
“It was kind of crazy and took me by shock, because the second that I walked away from the driveway, somebody pulled up, backed up, and hooked up Adam’s car without checking for any kids or anything like that,” she said.
Haddock explained that normally her 11-year-old son would be sitting in the car. But the only reason why he wasn’t this time, was because she asked him to help take groceries inside.
“He was so close to being towed away. I can’t imagine how traumatizing that could have been for him,” she said. “The standard shouldn’t be, ‘Tow at all costs.’ It should be, ‘Tow safely and effectively.” We are taking responsibility for our part. But we want the property management and towing company to take responsibility for their part too.”
Herriman City Councilmember Steven Shields saw the surveillance video the next day, after Haddock posted it on a community Facebook group. When asked what he thought of the incident, he said, “Disbelief. It just seemed a truly predatory action. To have somebody come in so swiftly and aggressively hook up a vehicle, ready to drive off, that was concerning to me.”
Shields said he met with the Herriman Police Chief and found that reports of predatory towing are a common occurrence in their area. As a result, he combed through their city ordinance and state statute. But said with the way the code is written, the tow truck driver technically did nothing wrong.
“The issue is there’s no distinction in statute between an active loading and unloading situation and a completely stopped parked vehicle,” said Councilmember Shields. “Based on the statute, the way it reads right now, the towing company could tow a delivery truck, a U.S. Postal Service vehicle, a UPS or Amazon vehicle.”
Haddock said she is speaking out, hoping to prevent this from happening to someone else.
“Be very, very careful with what you’re doing. You may see other people doing it and idling on the side of the road. You may say to yourself that itcould be okay for one minute. But it turns out that it’s not,” she said.
Requests for comment from the HOA were not returned. An employee with Swift Towing said the owner had no comment.
Councilmember Shields said he will be meeting with the city council to discuss whether they can amend the ordinance to require tow truck drivers to inspect the car and make sure there’s no children inside, before they can take it away.
“We’ve looked at our ordinance to see where we might be able to enhance or strengthen our own rules and regulations that might make this type of an incident less likely to happen. We’ll continue to look into what we might be able to implement over the next several weeks,” he said.
He said he is also working with the Herriman Police Department on an education campaign, so that residents know what their rights are, where they can go to get help, how to appeal decisions, and more.
“Just so we can empower our residents to make sure that these things are done properly and correctly,” said Councilmember Shields. “There’s a lot of frustration out there and I understand it. Right now, I would just encourage everyone to first of all, obey all the laws. If you see the signs, don’t park there.”
He added, “Second, reach out to your Homeowner’s Association. Explain to them the issues that are happening. Talk to the management companies and plead with them to make the changes. If they’re unwilling to make those changes, then I would ask my residents to please look into those boards and committees and run for office to change that.”