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December 6th, 2009 - Bike Assault and Battery

Have you ever wanted to castrate a man with a dull spread knife?

On one of my last days in Los Angeles, I parked my bike on a street under a sign that read “tow-away zone from 4-7”. I was thinking of moving it the whole time but one thing led to another and by the time I got around to it, it was 4:30 and the bike was gone.

I called the city and they said that bike was impounded and they gave me the towing company’s address to go and get it. Since this motorcycle is my only transportation, I called a cab and got there 45 minutes later in the rush-hour traffic of L.A.

I walked inside a mall size towing company called Keystone Towing where my motorcycle was supposed to be stored. I was already angry and blaming myself for the stupid parking zone violation, but that’s just one side of the story. They told me that the towing fee was $217 plus an $80 citation to the Los Angeles police department.

I told the clerk to show me the bike so I can inspect it and see that everything is ok before I would pay the charges. He walked me through the storage lot and when I got to the bike, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The tank was ripped off the frame and hanging from the two bolts under the seat. The cable lock was wrapped up around my rear wheel from them pulling the bike. The forks were bent with a slight arch in them, the seat was bent back and ripped, and finally, the gas tank rubber bushings and a 10mm bolt sitting under the bike.

As calm as I could be (which is probably not what you imagine the word calm would mean), I asked for the manger to come over. The operations manager walked out and I told him I don’t care how it happened, just tell me loud and clear what you are going to do about it and tell me now.

With utmost insolence and unprofessional disrespect, he countered with “how do we know it wasn’t like this when it got here?” At this point I wanted to demolish his face right then and there but I stepped away and called 911 to send out a police officer.

While I was waiting, the manager went on with taking pictures and telling me that I have two options: A) pay the fee for the bike and get it out of there or, B) they would charge me an additional $45 every day for storage if I choose not to pay the fee now. The cops got there and they refused to make a damage report on the grounds that this was a civil dispute and not criminal, and if I have a problem with it, I can go to court and request a hearing.

Since I’m constantly traveling, have nowhere to stay in the city, nor have the time or patience to pursue a law suit against a city-contracted towing company, so knowing all that, I said to the manager “you know what; just give me something…, drop the towing fees and I’ll be on my way.” After a long conversation, he said that $100 of the towing fee goes to L.A county and they can’t wave that and all he can do is to give me a discount, and for that, I had to sign a waiver that I am OK with everything and will not sue the company!

As I assessed my options to settle the damages given my travel situation, I told him to let me try to crank the bike so I can see if it even runs, and that there might be other damages that I can’t see in the dark warehouse with a flash light. If it at least moves, I can make my decision then.

Not only was this guy rude and arrogant from the start, this time he said: “Take it or leave it. I won’t let you see the bike until you pay for it or get out because we are closing right now.”

At this point I paid the full amount so I retain the right to sue them when I get the bike out. They ran my bank card and then, they wanted me to sign a paper saying that “I have received the above vehicle in satisfactory condition”. I told them “Hell no. I’m not signing that. I already paid for your ‘service’ and I want my bike NOW.” They said if you don’t sign the paper, you will not get your bike.

So I called 911 again and asked for yet another visit from the police which took 45 minutes. With police intervention, a segment was added to the paper that the bike is in a damaged state and I listed all the damages I could see, made two copies and I finally got the bike out of there.

I bent the tank back down but it’s only holding on with the back bolts, the paint is chipped and cracked on the tank(this tank was in immaculate shape, see the older pictures on my website) and the seat is bent and ripped and it won’t stay on without moving to left and right.

I am seriously thinking about suing the United Roads Towing Co. and its division the Keystone Towing. Maybe the damage is not worth the trouble, but it is a matter of principle. Paying the traffic fine is one thing which I don’t have a problem with as it was my own fault, but getting raped by the city and their contracted towing company is something else.

I am grateful to Dana Onel for hosting me at her place in Sherman Oaks and like to thank all those who called, emailed and offered their help to get me back on the road. Wrong doing of one company does not alter my perception of the good people of California and in particular Los Angeles.

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There are 21 Comments

  1. Dogma
    December 6, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Aw crap. It sounds like the retards tried to lift it by the tank and seat.
    I can’t offer any advice, but I hope you can find a lawyer that can tear them a new one. Not just for damage to the bike, but for the time lost.
    Before that, I hope someone out there can help you out with just getting things done.

  2. Xero404
    December 6, 2009 at 5:01 am

    I’m sorry to hear that they f-ed you over. I lost my 87 e30 BMW similarly 2 days ago. hb parking impounded it while it was parked on the street in front of my apartment. I was stuck in a catch 22 it couldn’t register because it wouldn’t smog and it was impounded because it wasn’t registered, and i can’t get it out because i have to register it. So in the end i forfeited it to the impound yard since the fees to get it out were going to cost more than the value of the car… now i have no cager for the rains coming in the next 2 days.

    if you need a place to crash i have a fold out couch in Huntington beach i can spare for a fellow gs-er

  3. SqDancerLynn1
    December 6, 2009 at 6:03 am

    I know how you feel, I had my van towed because of a parking time limit at the condo complex. The f ers damaged my van and I sued them in small claims court I don’t know how much I can do for you. I do have a very good selection of tools no garage If I can help I’m about 30 miles from LA
    ph 909 623-9819 the best time call Sat 12-5pm at work Or holler at the ansering machine I may be listening
    By the way I won!!! Not a big deal but their $200 tow cost them $450
    My sister had her car towed last year because the registration was expired?? $400 later, they screw you over any way they can. I could probably move things around and get your bike inside..

  4. Don-lo
    December 6, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Sorry to hear about this nightmare.

    You’ve been continually documenting the condition of your bike, so I think you have a good chance of winning your case. Check the tow away sight to see if a surveilance camera was trained on it (public or private).

    Check to find out how they tied the bike down. I have seen logger chains used on the fork tubes, and that destoys them.

  5. Ramrod400
    December 6, 2009 at 7:34 am

    I came home one day to see high school buddy I have not seen in 20 yrs on judge alex,his car had been damaged from getting towed away and I thought he had good case he lost,I ran tow truck for many years after high school and the cops know the companys on there tow list well,for many years I never had to tow a bike unless it was crashed.Then I went to work for big towing company on the 2nd shift and the *ickhead 2nd shift boss told me The cops called and wanted a bike towed in that was blocking a fire exit so I ask where was there motorcycle straps and a few other things that help not to damaged a bike he gave me a crazy look and walked out of my sight then cam back with two 6ft nylon strands like you hang your clothes on or something and I said if it a moped I might be able to get it, It was a honda goldwing fully dress biggest bike ever??Called him on radio and told him it was not going to work,so he comes out there take the nylon cord from me and said send a boy to do a mans job,he ties the cord around triple tree and the other one in back tire and over the seat and makes big loop uses winch and pulls it uphe made it back to shop but when he pulls in drive way it cuts loose,the cops did a tow report before so the owner got it taken care of the bike was a mess the boss put me down in the log for towing it but I slapped him around and got fired.. amen

  6. sachsaca
    December 6, 2009 at 7:49 am

    It is a civil matter, not criminal. You have to go thru the Local Magistrates office for the County of where you were staying. Keep all paperwork. Your documented trip will be of great assistance showing the condition of the bike. I don’t know Cal. civil law terms so I’ll give it a go.
    You’ll want documented real world cost repair to the dmaged bike parts froma shop. Not what you think but a legitimate business owner. I understand you can probably do it yourself but you need a written estimate alomg with pics prior to the event of prickdom tow truck driver and after the prickhead got his fat fingers on it. I would also look at what this has cost you in it’s entirety. Running around, loss of time if that costs you anything like say from a sponsor for your ATW trip.
    Take all this info to the magistrate and see if or what paper you need to file. It may be “Complaint for Money Owed” a Civil action paper. It requires service from the sheriff’s office or a person who can legally serve due process. Don’t go crazy asking for money judges in civil court don’t really like that. Also see if there are other people who have had issues on this matter. You can also get a local tv station involved in it. They would really hate the negative publicity. Especially since they work for the county/city. It would be awful for them to lose a multi $$$$$$ contract to tow for the city. Go get’em.

  7. hampshirehog
    December 6, 2009 at 7:55 am

    That’s a real sh!tty deal – sorry to hear you got shafted and you’re now left with a bitter taste of LA. If you’ve got an email address for the company, or any other info, you could pop the details up here and I’d bet the guys in the GSR would overwhelm them with complaints. Might not help you get any recompense but might make help you feel a tad avenged.

  8. Larry D
    December 7, 2009 at 8:43 am

    I would already be at the local news station with all the pictures, website and stories of your journeys. They love to expose the bad things that happen to good people.

    It would be a great way to get the word out on your efforts as well. Perhaps a silver lining to this particular dark cloud

  9. Bill
    December 7, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Sorry Chris, that sucks.
    Let me know how I can help.

  10. KEITH KRAUSE
    December 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    It’s really unfortunate that everything happened. I read the whole thing but all I could keep thinking was why did you park it there and then keep ignoring it even while thinking you should move it?? Not trying to add insult to injury but I guess you were really pre-occupied.
    I’m not sure how the tank and seat got that way. It could be damage from the towing but I wonder if someone else came along just before the tow and tried to steal parts? Someone in a hurry. Whoever it was they must have been dumb as dirt to think you could just pull off the tank.
    I’m not sure how this will turn out but I hope for the best.
    This reminds me of a bike I had that got towed and something happened that I couldn’t believe.
    I was about 16 and I got stopped by the police for riding my Suzuki TM400 dirt bike on the street. I had just washed the bike and I was in cut-offs and just going to a friends house for a few minutes. I had no ID. The police said I was operating a “non-registered vehicle” and they called for a tow. The bike had no kickstand (that’s what all pure MX owners did back then…right?) and I had to beg the tow guy to lay the bike down easily to avoid damage. No, he didn’t have any kind of straps to normally tie down a bike. This was a Sunday.
    The next day me and my mom picked up the bike. The tow company was called Black and White. There are railroad tracks and a lot of unpaved dirt area accross the street from their building. When I paid and went to get my bike, the entire underbelly/downpipe/tires were caked with dirt and mud. They had ridden my frickin’ bike!! They denied riding it. My mom didn’t know what to think and I was just a kid against these jerks. On the way out I kicked and broke their glass entrance door. They said “HEY” and I just immediately said it was an accident and they were ticked off but speechless. Tables got turned on them. Luckily for me there was no damage other than the mud.
    To this day I can’t believe they would do that but they did.
    Just wanted to add my story even though it doesn’t help much. I hope you get back on the road and better things come your way. This is not an “LA” thing. It’s just the way it is wherever you go. The more people you shove into a certain size area, the worse it gets.

  11. Hcritz
    December 7, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    New York City is just the same…even worse…
    They towed my 2 day old car when it was LEGALLY parked! They see out of state plates and they will tow…they know you have to get your car and won’t take the trouble to come back for the court date.
    Tow truck drives are allowed to tow what they want…cops aren’t even involved until it gets to impound.
    Cost me $400 in towing and impound fees…it was 2 blocks away.
    At least they didn’t damage the car!!!
    I hope you got picts of the damage at the impound.
    Good Luck!

  12. Matt H
    December 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Chris and I talked last night and we came to the consensus that the towing company used a strap under the tank to hoist the bike in the air to tow it. I have seen them do that on COPS in LA before and there is no doubt about that happening. I doubt that O’hare towing in Chicago on Wrecked on Speed Channel would tow a bike improperly. Point being that they should never tow something they don’t have the proper equipment to tow. You wouldn’t try to tow a tractor trailer with a ton pickup, so why hoist a bike behind a wrecker. There SHOULD be a log of what truck the driver was using and it will show what kind of truck.

    The damage wasn’t there before the tow, the damage is there now. Liability is on the tow company.

  13. four-shot
    December 8, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Contact local news agencys. T.V. exposure will get you double duty; raise awareness for what you’re doing, and have the towing company involved wiping egg off their face. I’d definately sue the bastards

  14. Thecafekid
    December 8, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Agreed. If it gets out that you were riding for a cause that effects the entire world like that and that some towing company has possibly cut your efforts and journey short by potentially ruining your bike and only means of travel it’s gonna look really really bad on them. Heck ya might toss in there that the LAPD did nothing to help you out as well. The last thing they want is bad press. They’ve gotten enough of it through the years.

    I’m gonna agree with the tie strapps. I’ve had a bike towed once. I was very fortunate that the statie that impounded it was also a rider and actually felt bad he had to impound it to begin with and was very very nice and actually just doing his job. He even gave me a ride home. Lol. He also went out of his way to assure that the bike was strapped up correctly by the tow driver, especially after seeing my anguished look when the wrecker pulled up and I saw it wasn’t a flatbed. It’s complete BS your bike was treated this way and regardless of the outcome I would take this to the extremem level untill I received justice of some sort.

  15. Basscliff
    December 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Hi,

    I’m not that close (about 45 min. east of downtown LA) but I have a little garage space you can use. Send me a PM if you like. It’s a shame that you’ve been treated this way. Best of luck to you and I will remember you in my prayers.

  16. Cyclefvr2
    December 8, 2009 at 11:20 am

    that is f in terrible man so sory to hear about it
    217.00 ?? r u crazy lol i would make them buy a brand new (painted )tank at least ,thats damage over 300 im betting,they could have gotten a roll back and had no problems!!, they pay insurance so they dont care
    there costing you over xxx amount in time, transportation, damaged goods, renting a place to stay, food
    the list is at a 1000 now, plus a certified mechanic to fix it 89.00 a hour!
    , since they damaged it and its taking how many days out of your trip
    i would stick it to those low life motorcycle haters, bastards

    and the blond at the towing company should give some lovin for her companies discomfort to you (hehehe) ok maybe im a lil over the line but what the hell, you dont stand for us lil ppl no one will.

  17. ardalan zahiri
    December 8, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    omid joon baradar che balaei saret oomade?

  18. Oldvett 66
    December 8, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    A parking violation doesn’t give them license to damage personal property, even though “Bikers may be the scourge of the earth” in their opinion. You have plenty of documentation. I would take your journey and story to the media and then go after them tooth and nail in a court of law. Sorry you had to suffer the indignation and loss these pricks put you through.

  19. Littleroot
    December 8, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I am so sorry to hear this. I lived in LA for most of my life and the impound yards are the worst I have ever had to deal with. Bravo to you for trying to fight the system because I always let them screw me.

  20. 1_v8_merc
    December 9, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Good move!
    That’s similar to what happened to us.
    We got fuckeded over by a moving company, supposed to be a $800 bill, and ended up coming out to $2000.
    We TOLD THEM to stop all work and talk to US FIRST if the bill was about to increase or any additional charges to be added.
    (since we were under contract of an exact amount of money)

    Well they delivered our stuff to the new house, JACKED up the bill to $2000.
    Then demanded we pay it NOW, or they wouldn’t unload our stuff, and threatened to drive off with our stuff and leave it in a warehouse and make us pay rental charges!!!!!!!!!

    Lucky for them, I wasnt home when this happened.
    I would not hesitate to pull out my dear friend Mr. Glock, and proceed to tell them that They weren’t fucking going ANYWHERE with my furniture until the bill came back down to the initial $800.
    (as far as im concerned, you pull into MY driveway with MY property, increase the bill, and THREATEN to LEAVE with my property? That is theft of property, and that’s easily enough to get you shot over.)
    The nerve of some of these pricks!

    ANYWAYS, they ended up knocking $1000 off the bill….which STILL wasn’t down to the original amount….

    2 months later, and 10 or so phone calls to the company and complaints to the Better Business Bureau…they ended up giving us ANOTHER $500 in refunds.

    And the company was on the brink of being shut down last time I heard.

    The name of the company isn’t worth mentioning, because they aren’t in operation.
    But apparently these guys were notorious for opening up companies, ripping off people, getting shut down, and then opening up Another company under a different name…..

    You gotta be careful out there these days, there’s so many scams, it’s unreal…..even companies with good reps, can suddenly turn sides too.

  21. Trever Brandt
    December 15, 2009 at 3:08 am

    that’s more adventure then anyone would be looking for! great reading though… take care Chris and thanks for the post card!!

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