Ultimate Towing of Gainesville Inc. voluntarily suspended all roam trespass towing operations Monday as the company conducts an internal review and reorganization.
Ultimate is one of the city’s biggest towing companies and is currently inspecting each of its more than 2,000 tow-away signs citywide.
The company’s owner, Stephen O’Grady, said in a press release that the internal review was more of an inventory than anything. The suspension will not last more than a week, and the company will review each of its contracts before resuming operations.
O’Grady was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Ultimate Towing is working closely with Gainesville Police as they internally review and evaluate state statutes and city ordinance compliances, according to the press release. The company’s trespass-towing permit was previously revoked in 2011 because they illegally removed vehicles from the Canopy Apartments complex.
The company’s previous owner, Stan Forron, was arrested in April when he and Bonnalyn Beth Lachut, a previous Canopy Apartments property manager, allegedly stole two scooters, staged them as if they were parked illegally and towed them, calling them in as abandoned.
Ultimate will still provide call-in towing services and respond to both roadside assistance customers and accident emergencies. Roam towing is expected to resume again sometime next week.
Wade Swikle, who graduated from UF in 2012 with a telecommunication degree, said he could see this roam towing suspension becoming a problem for businesses.
“If students are parking in Midtown to go to class, that’s obviously going to cause problems for businesses that are there,” Swikle said.
Swikle, 24, had his car towed by Ultimate Towing in July 2013 while at a friend’s house.
Swikle said he asked the tow-truck driver to unhook his car but was told he’d have to pay $76 to retrieve it from the company’s impound lot. Swikle said he’s been towed five or six times in his life.
“They kind of go a little bit overboard, and sometimes, it doesn’t always make sense,” Swikle said.
Alyssa Magill, a 19-year-old UF animal sciences sophomore, said her friend received a $150 ticket last week and now worries about getting towed and ticketed. She lives in Broward Hall and said she parks across from Hume Hall before walking home.
Still, Magill said the suspension might cause problems.
“I think it’ll be a bigger inconvenience for some students,” she said, “because if a lot of students just parked wherever, then people who actually need the spots or are registered for the spots can’t park there.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 9/17/2014 under the headline "Ultimate suspends roam towing"]