Towing companies: House bill would have little impact in Valley


Staff report

COLUMBUS

An Ohio House bill forbidding towing companies to use “spotters” to find and report improperly parked vehicles would have little local impact, area towing companies said Monday.

Ohio House Bill 113, currently under review by the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee, would make the practice a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The majority of the companies contacted by The Vindicator said they don’t employ spotters or were at first unfamiliar with the practice. They said most calls to tow wrongfully parked vehicles come from the police departments that contract with them.

Representatives from at least one Youngstown towing outfit named by others as using spotters could not be reached to comment Monday.

“No vehicle should be towed for being parked outside of an apartment building because a person is running in and back out to their car for a quick stop,” State Rep. Thomas Patton of Strongsville, R-7th, told committee members after he introduced the bill in March. “The prohibition against compensating or employing spotters works to prevent any person or group from financially benefiting from excessive towing.”

State Rep. Michael O’Brien of Warren, D-64th, the bill’s only local co-sponsor, also could not be reached to comment Monday.

The transportation committee, which includes State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th, has yet to hear any opposing testimony.

However, attorney Robert Mecklenborg, who represents the Towing and Recovery Association of Ohio has suggested that property owners be allowed to employ their own “spotters” and suggested downgrading the punishment to a minor misdemeanor, “especially considering that a violation of the ‘anti-kickback’ provision is only a minor misdemeanor.”

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