US: Florida man arrested for illegally towing cars at Gay Days festival
The owner of a Florida tow truck company is facing charges of illegally towing vehicles that belonged to participants in Orlando’s Gay Days events in June.
Jason Combs, owner of ASAP Towing, has been charged with 29 counts of grand theft auto, plus other related charges.
Police believe Combs targeted the event, considered one of the largest LGBT pride celebrations in the world, towing over 100 vehicles from June 5 to 9 from a parking lot near the festivities.
Police told The Orlando Sentinel that the company had spotters watching for cars parked illegally, and that towings were done in less than 15 minutes after event goers left their vehicles.
Corporal Rick Schmeltzer with the Sheriff’s Office said: “This was total predator towing. There’s really no other word for it.”
Victims of the towings paid over $150 (£88) to get their cars back from Comb’s company, according to police.
Combs didn’t have a contract to tow vehicles at the event or proper signs notifying drivers that the lot was a tow-away zone.
Police also told the Sentential that the company targeted vehicles the year before during Gay Days.
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During weekends with other events, police say the company performed a “minuscule amount of tows.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports ASAP previously had a contract with the parking lot, which expired in May. The contract was not to be renewed until after the Gay Days event.
In an email between Combs and lot’s owner, Combs asked to push forward the date on the contract so Gay Days would be included.
The complaint filed against Combs said: “This is further evidence that Jason Combs knew he had no contract in place and was not authorized to tow vehicles from Westwood Town Center.”
Combs’ attorney told The Orlando Sentinel that his client did have a valid contract and only towed illegally parked vehicles. He said that it was irrelevant that the towings took place on Gay Days.
Schmeltzer told The Orlando Sentinel that any hate crime charges are under review.