7 On Your Side
Towed away after Sandy
SEASIDE HEIGHTS (WABC) -- In the last 24 hours this tow company went from suspicious to search warranted - Accused of grossly bloating its bills, and then demanding ransom from hurricane victims who had to evacuate and returned to missing property.
Good luck getting an answer to a simple question - why did it cost nearly $4,000 to tow a boat a few miles.
"It was very frustrating. I thought I lost the boat," T.J. Conroy said.
Conroy has a big bill, but no boat. The last time he saw his beloved 17-foot "KING CRABBER" it was wrapped and strapped to his trailer and parked in his Seaside Heights driveway. For two weeks, he said, no one contacted him about where his boat had gone.
When residents were finally allowed back onto the barrier island, TJ tracked the vessel down to APK Towing in Toms River, currently awash in towed cars boats and trucks. It was the only tower Seaside Heights hired to get vehicles off the ravaged island.
"I didn't even look at the boat. I got the bill and said are you kidding me? Are you for real?" Conroy said.
The fees, including 13 days of storage, added up to a a grand total of $3841.
"They didn't tow it to Ohio! They towed it 4 miles," he said.
So he left, without his boat and called us.
The guys in the office didn't answer questions for us, but after we brought TJ's bill to the Ocean County prosecutor, she had plenty of questions for them.
"That vehicles were taken from private property. There were complaints that vehicles were not in a disabled situation, that they were secured, that boats and vehicles were home," prosecutor Marlene Ford said.
She said the company wasn't cooperating with their investigation, when we visited we were told the owners weren't around.
Hours after we left, search warrants were executed and authorities were swarming, removing records from APK towing.
The company's lawyer told us bills like TJ's were mistakes and owners of anything towed won't have to pay a dime.
APK's attorney said it had an agreement with the borough of Seaside Heights. All the tow charges would be $250 per vehicle - no more - and Seaside Heights, not the boat and car owners, would be footing the bill. After our calls to the Ocean County prosecutor, TJ was the first person to pick up his boat from the tow yard - free of charge.
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