Parking scam leaves families stranded in Detroit after Thanksgiving Day Parade

This parking lot was full of cars before they were towed away. Photo by Steve Neavling.

This parking lot was full of cars before they were towed away. Photo by Steve Neavling.

As many as 15 families were stranded in Detroit after the Thanksgiving Day Parade because of a parking scam and unforgiving condo residents.

Three tow¬†trucks removed 10 to 15 cars from a parking lot at Alfred and Woodward late Thursday morning because they were parked in a private, unused lot behind a condo complex. But parade goers didn’t know they did anything wrong because a person posing as a parking attendant collected $5 to let people park in the lot.

One of the cars towed by Goch and Son's Towing. Photo by Steve Neavling.

One of the cars towed by Goch and Son’s Towing. Photo by Steve Neavling.

Goch & Sons Towing was unapologetic as employees towed the cars to a southwest Detroit impound lot, where they demanded $390 in cash to retrieve the cars. When Motor City Muckraker called the towing company, no one answered, raising questions about whether people could even retrieve their cars Thursday.

“It’s a scam. They have a big scam going on down here,” said Becky Sylvester, whose Thanksgiving plans were spoiled because she didn’t have the cash to pay for her car. “My daughter’s step-sisters were in the parade but we didn’t get to see them, so the whole point of coming down here was ruined.”

Some people pleaded with tow truck drivers to stop removing their cars, but the drivers said there was nothing they could do unless they were paid $390 in cash on the spot.

“You’re heartless! This is Thanksgiving,” one woman yelled at a tow truck driver as he drove off with her car.

Some families with children were crying because they didn’t have cash to retrieve their cars.

The tow truck drivers declined to speak to Motor City Muckraker.

The city said it had nothing to do with the towing and was unaware that it was happening. Dozens of other cars in Brush Park were illegally parked, but their cars weren’t towed.

When we tried to interview a condo resident, she responded, “They shouldn’t have parked their cars there. Not my problem.”

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.