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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Break-ins, not arrests, common for local tow companies

The arrest of UF football player Tony Joiner on Oct. 2 wasn't the first problem local towing companies have had with late-night car pickups.

Stan Forron said the two companies he owns, Elite Towing and Ultimate Towing, get break-ins about 15 to 30 times a year.

People have been caught in the act about five times, he said.

Forron is also the property manager for the Watson's Towing lot, where the incident involving Joiner occurred.

The Gainesville Police Department has never arrested anyone in a case like this, Forron said.

"I've had people machine-gun one of my tow trucks," he said. "They did not arrest him. I had someone blow through my gate. They did not arrest him."

Police have charged people, he said, but never with a second-degree felony.

GPD Lt. Keith Kameg said bringing charges is essentially the same as arresting someone.

Forron said tow companies just want their money. "We have no interest in seeing someone go to jail," he said.

Mike Weber of Superior Towing agreed.

"All we want you to do is come back and pay your tow bill," he said.

But Weber, who has never caught anyone in the act, said he doesn't typically call police for break-ins.

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Usually he uses caller-ID records to contact people and let them know he has their names.

If that doesn't work, he'll have license plates traced - often reaching the owner's parents, he said.

Forron said it's standard procedure to call the police in case of a break-in. Towing employees also call the police when they fear violence from a customer.

The employee who called police about Joiner "kind of overreacted," he said, but never told police he wanted to press charges.

Charges were dropped Friday against Joiner.

Kameg said there is no formal procedure for police to ask if people want to bring charges. If the Watson's Towing employees did not want to charge Joiner, they should have said so, Kameg said.

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