John Tracy owns a local towing company and asked to share his story here. Being that he is a fellow tax paying South Dakotan wanting to exercise his rights, I heartily agreed to give him time and space here to do so. We will share more with what we find out as this story develops.
“I own 3J Towing in Belle Fourche, SD. About a month ago, we were called by our police department to impound a car. It had fake tags on it and she had meth in it, among other things. It came back registered to a couple in Missouri, not to the driver. It, of course, has to have current registration and insurance to ever be released, which she claims is impossible. The only thing she has is a handwritten bill of sale that anyone can get and fill out from Google. We have the business policy of a registered owner only unless they can provide a notarized affidavit from the RO saying that they have permission to pick it up or a notarized document from the seller or of course the title. She has none of the above. We also do not release the contents of a vehicle if they can not provide proof of ownership.
Well, this lady threatened to kill me twice, the last time in the presence of two PD officers and once on the phone. Her boyfriend threatened to literally blow up or bomb my business, kill me, and hunt down my wife and kids and kill them. Our State’s Attorney will not allow them to be charged since she doesn’t find the threats credible. Fast forward to this morning, the Chief Deputy of our County Sheriff’s Department delivered a court order to my employees (I was out of state at meetings and got back later today) demanding us to allow law enforcement officers to remove any and all contents of the vehicle at no charge. First off, there are SDCLs that state that we can release food, clothes, prescription drugs, and if they can provide proof of occupation, tools of their trade. However, it does not say that we have to release anything to just anyone claiming them when they don’t have legal ownership of the vehicle. I’m definitely not trying to be unethical or do anything not legal, it’s not who I am. At the same time, I feel that I am being railroaded by the judge, State’s Attorney and Sheriff. They have been trying their very best to eliminate us from the towing rotation at any cost to allow my competitor to have a monopoly. It makes no sense whatsoever.
We were told by others in the SD Professional Towing Association (SDPTA) that this court order violates SDCL 32-30-18, 32-30-12, 32-30-15, 32-30-19, and 32-26-4. Also, we are allowed to have certain business policies as long as we are not breaking the laws or rules, which we definitely are not. We believe that this is blatant discrimination against our company as well as extreme overreach and tort interference by the county government, in conjunction with our competitor, with the ultimate goal of shutting down our business. If I’m wrong on these things, please tell me. The competing company has done everything they can to make us disappear: from reporting and shutting down our website, to social media, and even our Google page. We have had drivers threatened physically by their employees to not complete private calls that we were already paid in advance to do. They have employees show up on our scenes and bad mouth our employees and us and tell them that we were damaging their vehicles. They have beaten us to law enforcement calls that they heard come over the radio and literally poached these calls from us. We didn’t know until we got somewhere and our vehicles we were dispatched to were gone. They tried to turn our entire towing association against us and tried to make them boot us because we are the first and currently the only towing company in SD certified to do hazardous spill response. Do you see a pattern? All these things and many more things similar over the past decade all while backed up by the sheriff. Oh, they also had him suspend us for two months back in the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. We were actually suspended for things that they did and when we proved these things we were finally reinstated and they were never punished and we never even got an apology let alone the money we lost.”
If you’d like to watch 3J Towing’s public comment made at a recent county commission meeting, click here (It’s on Facebook, but we’ll get it on our Rumble channel by the end of this week!).
Stay tuned for part 2…