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After terrifying carjacking, victim now forced with towing bill after car was abandoned by crook

1 year 10 months 3 weeks ago Monday, April 04 2022 Apr 4, 2022 April 04, 2022 11:45 AM April 04, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Late last year a man was carjacked and kidnapped. If that wasn't enough, now he's on the hook for a large bill after his car was towed.

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The man, who does not want to be identified, tells 2 On Your Side that he's trying to save money to better his life. He now rides his bike to and from work, which is nearly four miles each way. Every trip, he thinks about the most terrifying 45 minutes of his life and has anxiety about a mounting bill he can't afford to pay.

"I thought I was going to die," he said. "They claimed they had weapons."

He says he was threatened, hit in the face, carjacked, and kidnapped. The terrifying ride took him to Taco Bell and a gas station before he was dropped off in his neighborhood. His vehicle was stolen and it's now why he rides his bike to work.

For weeks, he didn't know where his vehicle was. Then last month, on March 11, he received a bill in the mail from Larose Towing saying he had outstanding charges of almost $2,000. The victim contacted the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office to let them know. The detective went to the tow yard that day to verify and remove it from the National Crime Information Center so it could be released to the owner.

The car is still in the tow yard because the victim can't afford to pay the bill.

"That's just another bill that I don't need in my life," he said.

He's now wondering why it took the tow company so long to contact him.

The car was towed on January 4 after a private resident called the tow company about an abandoned vehicle. Each day the car sits in the tow yard, the vehicle owner is charged another $24. The car was towed wrecked and no longer starts.

The final notice from the towing company says if the carjacking victim doesn't pay the bill, the charges may result in claims being turned over for collections.

According to the Office of Motor Vehicles, when a tow facility places a vehicle in storage, they must report it. Once the owner and lienholder information is received, the tow facility must send a notice within 10 business days followed by a final notice. If the owner or lienholder fails to pay outstanding charges, the tow facility may apply for a permit to sell the vehicle.

As part of the official report, the National Crime Information Center database is checked to see if the car has been reported stolen. If it is, the tow facility is provided with the necessary information to contact law enforcement and have the vehicle recovered according to law enforcement protocols. In most cases, out-of-state owner/lienholder information can be obtained by the OMV and provided to the tow facility.

In this case, the sheriff's office says it was never contacted by the tow company. It also says that Larose Towing had difficulty tracking down the vehicle owner because the vehicle was registered in Mississippi.

The owner of Larose Towing told 2 On Your Side that he also has bills to pay and even if the car is stolen the car owner still has to pay to get it back.

The victim says he wishes the towing company would have more compassion. He doesn't want collections coming after him.

"He was saying he didn't care if I was a victim," he said. "That I would still have to pay because I'm the owner of the car, I'm liable."

EBRSO says it's able to put $500 toward the tow fee through the Crime Victim Reparations fund. In New Orleans, the city council recently voted to waive towing fees for victims of carjackings.

Two suspects, a juvenile and Nathen Joseph were arrested in this case. Joseph is being held on a $105,000 bond for multiple charges, including carjacking and second-degree kidnapping. Joseph has a court appearance in May. According to the police report, the accused were both released from jail the night before the incident happened.

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