Scary Encounter

Had fallen asleep still dressed watching a late movie and was awakened by strange metal screeching sounds at 2 a.m. and looked out to see a huge tow truck maneuvering around in the street. When he backed into my drive I stepped out to find what was going on. By then the tow driver had pulled back out into the street in front of a car (not mine which is safely garaged!) and was busy hooking it up. Tow driver sees me and yells at me to get inside and mind my own business, using an astonishing syntax of vulgarities and obscenities. Hey buster, backing a huge tow truck, big enough to haul off a dumpster, up my driveway IS my business.

I called police who arrived in remarkably prompt time. But the tow was already gone, hauling off someone’s car. Weird thing is, I didn’t recognize the car that got towed. I don’t recall having ever seen it in the neighborhood before.

Apparently I witnessed the final moments of someone’s car being repossessed. But I sure as heck didn’t appreciate the repo man using my driveway to turn his huge truck and then curse me so threateningly.

I know repo guys legally may tow off repo’d cars in the dead of night and certainly encounter many threats and dangers in their work. So I am sure the verbal intimidation used on me is standard shock factor used to fend off angry car owners. Still, the guy had no rightful cause to pull into MY property since it wasn’t my car he was after nor was the targeted car anywhere on or curbed next to my property. The car was across the street.

I’m mad about the trespass and verbal abuse, and feeling really pissed there was nothing I could safely do but scurry back inside like a scared rabbit and call police. Damn but I hate having just been the epitomy of the stereotype of an ineffective helpless woman.

But given the rampant car thefts in this part of the county recently plus the obscene volume of gun violence in the wider metro region, I am even madder at myself for being dumb enough to have stepped outside alone in the middle of the night to challenge why he had his truck in my drive. Dumb dumb dumb. But I was so startled I didn’t think to just stay inside and call police that twenty or thirty seconds sooner.

Were the situation of someone losing his or her car and the scary encounter not serious, the sight of an oversized tow hauling off a tiny sub-compact car would be bizarrely comical. Unmarked dark blue truck abducts tiny dark blue car that screeches metal dragging protest as they disappear into the night.

Daylight shows no damage to my property but the street has a pair of parallel long gouges in the paving from the forklift type prongs used to grab the car and the rear tires of the car left skid marks which would explain the screeching sound from locked brakes I presume. Lots of cars parked curbside both sides of the street. Gotta admit the tow driver did fancy maneuvering of such a big truck snaking the repo’d car out between bracketed cars without apparently hitting anything else, although I haven’t gone too close to anyone’s car for close look. Still ticked off he used my driveway to reposition his truck and cursed me out for objecting to him doing so. Oh well, I am safe and unharmed despite my stupidity going outside so thankful to greet the dawn in one piece.

To be honest, if you don’t have a “no trespassing” sign posted on your property and if he did nothing to cause any damage, I don’t think you have a basis to complain about that part of the issue. Surely you’ve used other people’s driveways to turn around yourself in the past.

On the other hand, I agree that he shouldn’t have been abusive. He knew you weren’t the owner of the repossessed car, so there was no need for that.

It probably was a repo man. They often operate at night. It isn’t work I would want to do, but I guess it is,necessary. I wonder what lending institutions can repossess when students default on loans.

Haul the students in on the hook and put them on the road crew. Not that I don’t have sympathy but my payments were $60 that came out of my $80 Army pay and was never late.

I think driveways are semi public. Everyone uses them to turn around in and as long as they don’t drive on the grass, drip oil all over, or otherwise damage anything, I think it would be a standard custom and practice. You don’t charge someone with trespass that comes to your door and knocks on it? Even with a gate, you usually have to allow room to get the car off the street while the gate opens or the guard/maid responds. I would put this one in the category of: “Hey, kids, get off of my grass!”

I hear ya though falling asleep. I fell asleep last night reading a murder mystery and wrote dang near a new mystery in my dreams. All that was missing was the beginning and ending. Mine was bio terror though.

Driveways are not “semi-public” and should not be assumed to be. They’re private property. If I need to turn around, which I do often, I use a street or a parking lot.

Marnet, you should not be mad at yourself. Had you gone out to confront the repo guys, you would have put yourself in potentially grave danger. As you can imagine, people who do this job are often not the sensitive type. Repossessing cars in the middle of the night is not a job that meek people take.

Well not to argue but lets remember that driveways first cross public ditches adjacent to roads or public boulevards/sidewalks adjacent to streets. If you’ve got a sidewalk, you can’t restrict its use and if you don’t, anytime the city wants, they can plop one in on the boulevard right of way. Then there is the whole past custom and practice issue. Yeah you can’t block access but don’t try to stand out there with a shot gun and prevent someone turning around in the first five feet of your drive.

Good story! The last scary encounter we had was a very loud bang at about 1 am. My daughter’s bedroom faces the street and she woke us up saying a car had piled up against the elm tree beside our driveway. We live on a curve in the street with a well visible 20 mph speed warning.

The car turned out to be an old K Car and the driver was drunk and unconscious behind the wheel. We (our neighbors had woke up as well) could not get the door open and I used our large crow bar to do so. He was wearing his seat belt but the car had collapsed and his knees were against the steering column.

My wife had called the Police and emergency service as well and the paramedics came soon. The guy woke up was incoherent, and the smell in the car was that of a roadhouse bar at closing time.

This tree has been hit a number of times; from both directions and it has the scars to prove it at bumper height. We never leave our cars in the driveway at night as they are in line of careless drivers.

Lesson: Old rusted out cars with seat belts are not necessarily safe to crash in.

He’ll probably sue you for having a tree in a dangerous place, for damaging his car door with your crow bar, for frightening him unnecessarily while he was taking a nap, and for damaging his otherwise fine reputation by calling him drunk when that smell was only the home made rum cake he made for his Mom for Mother’s Day.

I think I’ll search for government grant money for sensitivity training for repo tow truck drivers.

@Bing I see your point. What had me alarmed was that he backed the tow truck all the way up my not short drive. And in the middle of the night. And it was far bigger than an average tow truck. Almost as big as the huge ones used to tow a bus or semi.

Had I approached him closely or interfered I would understand him warning me away. But I was on my own front yard just off my porch. Common practice using the end of someone’s drive to turn or not, I have every right to challenge why someone fully backs an oversized heavy commercial vehicle up my drive at 2 a.m.

I guess you didn’t get the name of the towing company, @Marnet. If you did, you can register a complaint with the owner. I doubt that is the truck driver.

@jtsanders There were no markings or logos visible on the truck despite the streetlight. Just uniformly dark blue paint. Had I been able to see a company name they certainly would have heard from me.

Let’s be clear, I stepped just off my porch and called to him by then out in the street saying “What’s going on? Why were you were in my driveway?” His colorful intimidating reply sent me scurrying back inside to call police. He didn’t just use a few feet at the end of the drive for turning, he backed all the way in such the front bumper was clear of the public right of way and sidewalk such the back end of his truck came within a few feet of my garage door. That much commercial vehicle that far up my drive at that hour and then verbally curse me for asking was not right. I’ve watched trucks that size deliver and later retrieve commercial rolloff dumpsters into neighbor’s drives without ever encroaching on anyone else’s drive while maneuvering. This guy used my entire drive as a quick matter of convenience just because he felt entitled to do as he damned well pleased. I object to being obscenely threatened to get out of my own front yard.

I wonder if the police know this guy? They do have contact with towing companies, either using them or seeing them at accidents or for broken down cars.

When I described the truck the two officers kind of nodded heads as if they knew the truck, said they would try to catch up. No idea if they really did try or were just placating me.

This encounter makes me think of the surreal movie "Repo Man’ with Emilio Estavez.

I actually worked with a guy who in his previous job was responsible for repossessions. In his case it was industrial equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, etc.

Tom told a story about his encounter w/a tow truck driver. His solution? He simply got inside his car, locked it, & turned on the radio and listened to music. The tow truck driver can’t tow the car w/someone in it. I decided that’s my plan should I encounter a tow truck trying to tow my car.

I know two guys who repo vehicles for banks and shyster car dealers. Neither of them have markings on their roll back trucks announcing who they are. Both wear body armor when they are on the job. Both carry permitted concealed guns. They mostly work after dark. It’s a nasty job that you couldn’t pay me enough to do.

Another local repo man, whom I know only by name, got shot by a deadbeat. He was not killed. The deadbeat was cleared of wrongdoing as the repo man did not announce who he was, or why he was there. It made the newspaper for several weeks during the trial. I suspect the deadbeat knew exactly why he was there after his car. I mean, someone backs up to a car you haven’t been paying on with a rollback… It was an older, but not antique, Rolls Royce. You’d have thought the guy had a couple of bucks, but I guess they ran out.

The cops know them. In fact they are required to call 911 once they have a car on their trucks so that the deadbeat can’t report the car as stolen.

Deadbeats who don’t make their car payments beware. These guys know how to find you, and it doesn’t matter if you lock your car and set the parking brake or leave it in park. They can break into a car in 30 seconds, or as in Marnet’s story, skid the tires down the street. They are not paid to care, only to get the car.

In my state, once the car is repoed, the deadbeat has 30 days to make the payments current, and pay any fees that the lender and repo agent deem acceptable. $250 is not uncommon. Snatch three or four cars in a night, and the repo man does well. IF the deadbeat can’t pay, the car is usually sold at a dealer-only auction. They don’t care if the price received doesn’t pay off the car. The lender will sue the deadbeat for whatever is left, and the courts will enforce the judgement.


WTH . . . ?!

OP’s problem isn’t that the tow truck driver tried to tow her car

OP’s problem is that the tow truck driver used her driveway to back up his rig, and was verbally abusive and threatening