- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

A D.C. firefighter found out firsthand this week that the city's new towing regulations won't necessarily keep some cars from disappearing.
The firefighter, who asked that his name be withheld, told The Washington Times yesterday that he parked his dark-blue 1992 Acura in his usual spot, then went into his station late Monday for a few hours of sleep.
When he woke, his car was gone, and not until he called D.C. police to report it stolen did he learn that it had been ticketed and towed.
So who's responsibility is it to notify the car owner that his vehicle was towed? Nobody, according to new towing regulations announced this week by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
The proposed new regulations, reprinted in the D.C. Register and open for public comment before going to the D.C. Council next month, do not clearly indicate whose responsibility it is the towing company, the police officers who request the tow, or the Department of Public Works employees who are supposed to track the car after it is towed to notify the owner.
That's the same problem that undermined the old regulations, towing operators told The Times.
The firefighter, whose Acura was towed between midnight and 3 a.m. Tuesday, said that when he contacted D.C. police the next day, he was told they had a record of the car being ticketed in front of his firehouse in Northwest, but that they had no clue as to where it had been towed.
"I think my car got taken by a rogue towing company that never called up the police to say they had the car," said the firefighter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in a telephone interview yesterday.
"It seems like the police officer who wrote the ticket … didn't even wait until the tow truck showed up so the proper information could be taken down," the man said. "There needs to be some sort of record. Now my car is just missing."
Authorities at the 2nd District police station at 3320 Idaho Ave. NW about a mile from where the towing occurred confirmed the Acura was ticketed, but whether or not the officer then requested it be towed was not clear.
"We're not sure who towed the vehicle," said Capt. Anthony Poteat. "An authority at the fire station could have called police communications to request the car be towed in which case, communications would have notified the officer on the scene. But we feel that a crime occurred here. Detectives are looking into it, and we're trying to track down where this vehicle is."
The mayor's proposed towing regulations 16 pages of new rules intended to clean up the industry will require all operators in the city to become licensed. The regulations also propose limits on the fees operators charge.
Additionally, towing companies would be required to have a city-issued control number prior to towing a vehicle so city officials can track the car.
But the new regulations don't have anything in them that would effectively put an end to problems like the one involving the missing Acura.

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