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How the city of Detroit is working to crack down on towing schemes

Posted: 5:02 AM, Feb 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-21 23:25:31Z

(WXYZ) — We told you the city of Detroit is hoping to make things better by taking over towing themselves and canceling contracts with companies they previously worked with. Now, the city has filed court documents saying the reason they canceled contracts with certain tow companies is because they are responsible for auto theft scams.

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One particular company, Nationwide, is in litigation with the city right now. Nationwide denied the accusations, and the city of Detroit backed down, retracting their accusations of fraud, but there are many people we've heard from that say they don't know where to point the finger, but they know something fishy is going on.

Josh Welton thought his Dodge Charger was safely parked in a gated lot outside of his Detroit home.

"At first you don't think your car is stolen, so you kind of look around, wait, did I park somewhere else? Nope," he said.

He filed a report with Detroit police right away and two days later, he got a call from Officer Taylor saying his car had been recovered and there were just dents on the bumper from pushing it, and the wheels and tires gone.

Instead of a happy ending, the story took an odd turn.

"He said if you use our shop, we will waive the deductible, and I wondered why a police officer is telling me that I should use his shop," Welton said.

Welton politely declined and was told he could retrieve his car the following day from Nationwide Recovery. The next day, Welton said the car was completely stripped with nothing left except the frame.

He called police and discovered that there was no Officer Taylor, he didn't exist.

In a 60-page counter complaint, the city of Detroit wrote in response to a lawsuit, accusing Nationwide Recovery of an "elaborate and wide-ranging scheme of fraud, deception, criminal conduct and dishonest." They also accused Nationwide of auto theft and "recovering stolen vehicles within the city of Detroit at a suspiciously alarming rate and under highly-questionable circumstances."

In a letter, the attorney for Nationwide Recovery tells 7 Action News those claims were "frivolous and disgusting,” and "the actions that the city took against Nationwide are unprecedented and a gross abuse of power and misuse of resources."

The city has since withdrawn their counter claim and the accusations within it.

Meanwhile those living in the city of Detroit like Welton are tired people of pointing fingers - they just want answers

"To me, someone calls you and says your car’s been recovered and there is minimal damage, and then asks if you want to use your shop and then you show up and your car is completely stripped, it means if you would have used their shop they would have put it back together, because i didn’t - they took everything that was valuable out of it that what it looks like to me," he said.

Nationwide has received a lot of positive reviews on Google in the last year, and there are people who have had good experiences, but Josh's story is one of several weird ones revolving around towing companies in Detroit in general.

Detroit police have said they are cracking down on corruption. We will stay on top of it.

If you have experienced a towing issue, or have any issues with roads and transportation in Michigan, email us at tips@wxyz.com or gettingaround@wxyz.com.