Are some towing companies gouging crime victims of stolen cars?

DAVENPORT- It could be a record breaking spring for stolen cars in the Quad Cities, and one victim tonight says be prepared to pay a steep price if your vehicle is taken.

"I know how much a tow costs from Rock Island to Davenport, it's usually something like, $50, maybe $75. I paid $255," said Joshua Croxton of Davenport, who had not one, but two cars stolen in one night.

It started when he and his fiancee were at a birthday party at Gunchies on Davenport's west side.

"We were at Gunchies for maybe 25 minutes, and in that time, they were able to get in the car, open the glove box, grab my keys which had the keys to both vehicles on the ring, and take my vehicle," Croxton said.

His wallet was also in the glove box, and the thieves used his driver's license to lead them to his home, and the couple's second car, which they stole.

His fiancee's car was found dumped in Rock Island. The car was towed to the Davenport Police Department by Fred's Towing, which has a contract with the city of Davenport.

It was kept at the police department for processing, but Croxton had to come up with $255 in cash and pay Fred's, to get a release for the car, which he then picked up at the police department.

"That just seems a little outrageous to me, and beyond outrageous, is it ethically and morally ok to have a company profiting off of the crimes that are happening in our community?, he said.

"It almost hurt worse than getting my car stolen, to have to turn around and pay to get my vehicle which was stolen by these little thieves," he said.

The invoice reads like this:

(Storage) City Fee                                                     $25.00

(Towing) City of Davenport Impound        $166.00

(Towing) Flatbed Fee                                                 $48.00

With tax, it totaled $255.73.

No one at Fred's towing would explain the bill and the rates for the stolen car. They told us to talk with the Davenport Police Department. A spokesperson there say the city doesn't make a dime and that Fred's Towing has a long-time contract with the city, and the rates are set in that contract.

Croxton knows he should have locked his car, and has learned an expensive lesson. In fact, the thieves came back two nights later and stole one of the cars again, before he had the locks changed.

Still, he says, he wants the towing prices looked into, because they are steep for anyone, let alone a crime victim.

"My question is what if we didn't have that extra cash. If we weren't able to come up with that, it would increase every day. There's several people who h ave had to pay out the nose after they pay deductibles. Ours is $1,000. To me, there's a better way to handle it."