ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - Be careful where you park because parking in the wrong spot after hours could cost you hundreds of dollars.
Tiara Catchings recently visited a St. Louis nightclub for a going away party, but opted to park in the Family Dollar parking lot located on Natural Bridge.
“I parked at the Family Dollar, it was the only well-lit area. I’m a woman, it’s night,” Catchings told News 4.
It was after 11 p.m and the Family Dollar was closed. Catchings said she parked in the lot “no more than 30 minutes and my car was gone.”
At first, she thought her car was stolen, but then saw a sign for Auto One Services. She retrieved her car the following morning and discovered it was taken more than 40 miles to an address in rural Barnhart in Jefferson County.
According to Catchings, “That’s an hour, that’s an hour away. Luckily my sister was able to take me.”
Once she arrived at the Auto One Services facility, she was asked to pay $425.
George Groves, the owner of Auto One Services, told News 4 he sometimes checks the lot on his own to see if cars are parked there after hours, and sometimes he gets called out to take the vehicles.
“It’s more of a gentleman’s agreement, no contract," he said.
According to a spokesperson for Family Dollar, the agreement is not between the company and Groves.
A spokesperson said, “We typically lease nearly all of our store locations. Landlords that own the store property many times enter agreements with tow companies for cars parked during non-business hours.”
The spokesperson added, “I am very certain no one from our team would have called a tow service at 11:30 p.m.”
News 4 reached out the California landlord that manages the Family Dollar location on Natural Bridge. The landlord told a News 4 producer he’s unaware of any towing agreement for the property.
Groves is also facing questions over an accident involving one of his tow trucks that occurred in Jefferson County on June 9. An Auto One Services truck driver was captured on camera losing control of the vehicle, causing damage to several residential properties.
The affected homeowners tell News 4 they checked with Auto One’s insurance provider only to discover the policy wasn’t active.
Groves admitted the truck in question didn’t have insurance. He said the driver was terminated, and the insurance mishap occurred because the truck had recently gotten out of the shop.
Groves said Auto One is out of business for now, but he’s not ruling out the possibility of getting back into the towing business.
He admits his Barnhart location was a long way for customers to travel and says some complained about the distance.
He regrets doing impound tows like Catchings, saying, “It’s been a constant headache.”
Catchings complained about the charges to her credit card company. She was issued a full refund.