Say what you will about Longhorn Wrecker, one of Dallas' notorious towing companies, you can at least never accuse it of laziness. This is the same company that during the Dallas Gay Pride Parade five years ago descended on a post office nearby and towed a few dozen cars from the parking lot, even though Longhorn didn't have a contract with the post office to tow illegally parked cars. We're sure that Longhorn meant well and was just trying to help the post office make room for all its customers that Sunday.
Longhorn's zeal for towing hasn't gone unnoticed by the state. In a massive docket, a prosecutor for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has compiled a list of all the laws that Longhorn has violated since mid-2013.
There are many of them, and they each come with a fine. Unless Longhorn can beat the charges at an administrative hearing scheduled next year, Longhorn will owe the state a grand total of $88,900 worth of fines.
"This is bullshit, these are my first offenses. I'm not going to even get fined or suspended or nothing. It's going to end up being nothing. It's my first fine, it's all bullshit," said a Longhorn representative when reached by telephone.
This is the same anonymous Longhorn representative who inspired a resident at Dallas' Pecan Tree apartments to call the cops last year, after a fight over Longhorn's continuous towing of residents' cars got out-of-hand. The resident, Chris Stoffers, said that a Longhorn employee who identified himself only as "Patrick" had called him and threatened him the night before a court hearing over Longhorn's towing. "He said if he sees me in public he's going to fuck me up ... and good luck getting to the tow hearing tomorrow because my car won't be there," Stoffers claimed.
At the time, Patrick denied that he threatened the man, and according to a brief statement he gave on the phone yesterday, the real story is that Longhorn has just been victimized by some extremely cruel car owners.
"They're ripping the signs down, calling the state and taking pictures of it. That's what I'm being fined for, OK?," said Patrick, referring to all the TDLR violations Longhorn received for not having the correct signs warning people about tow trucks. The TDLR also accuses Longhorn of withholding someone's car unless the owner paid the $186 in cash -- an accusation Patrick said is a lie. "We did take credit cards that day," he insisted. He was confident he'd successfully appeal the fine.
"It's all about money with the state. I don't want any more phone calls, OK? Because this is a bullshit thing."
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Apartment managers aren't supposed to get kickbacks from tow companies, though it's a law that's frequently flouted. In Longhorn's case, the TDLR says that they visited Dallas' Pecan Tree Apartments and manager Brenda Rodriguez admitted to the agency that Longhorn "provided parking permits and also painted and stripped the facility lot" at no charge, which the TDLR counts as a kickback.
See also: The Kings of the Apartment Lot Tow
The TDLR also found violations at Longhorn's own Dallas storage lot. The lot's landscaping, according to the TDLR investigator who visited last year, consisted of "weeds and overgrown vegetation up to one foot in height."
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.