North Texas Daily

Denton “wreckers” troll parking lots and streets

Denton “wreckers” troll parking lots and streets

Denton “wreckers” troll parking lots and streets
January 28
09:28 2014

Caitlyn Jones // Staff Writer

Yelling. Cursing. Threats. Cops. This is how manager Joey Andres begins his shift at On the Road towing.

“That stuff happens everyday,” said Andres, an employee for the past 16 years. “People think they can park where they park and get irate, saying they’re going to fight us or shoot us or whatever, more so at night because alcohol is usually involved.”

The wrecker service is one of several towing companies in the Denton area that deals with these situations. Businesses and apartment complexes set up contracts with the wreckers to patrol their parking lots for illegal parking by UNT students and everyone else.

Andres said he tows about 10 cars a day, proving the problem is constant, but not as prevalent as it once was.

“Five years ago, there weren’t as many apartment complexes so there was one party spot and the manager would call us,” he said. “Now, it’s more spread out and those calls don’t happen as much anymore.”

The office, located on Collins Street, is surrounded by an iron gate that only opens for tow trucks. Inside the gate resides a German Shepherd and the real guard dog, a Chihuahua. Andres likens the lot to Fort Knox.

On the Road tows for more than 100 apartment complexes and businesses, including The Republic, Campus Park and Eagle Creek. The company also rotates with other wreckers, towing for the Denton Police Department, Denton County and the UNT.

The Forum apartment complex has been contracting tow companies since 2011. Community manager Courtney Ingleman said towing is necessary because without it, all the resident spots would be taken.

“It got to a point where anybody’s boyfriend, friend, uncle, parent were just parking in the spots and staying there, riding our bus or something,” Ingleman said. “To cut down on that and make it more convenient for our residents, we installed the new policy.”

Most apartment complexes, including The Forum, give residents parking stickers after moving in so wreckers can identify whether or not the car is allowed to be parked there.

Junior finance major Zack Tzourtzouklis fell victim to Stan’s Towing in the parking lot of Eagle’s Landing condominiums while visiting a friend in West Hall.

“At first I thought my car was stolen because my friend hadn’t locked my door, but after ten seconds, I realized what happened,” Tzourtzouklis said. “Still, ten seconds feeling like your car got stolen is a long time.”

Tzourtzouklis realized there was a sign posted, called the number and paid $180 to get his car back.

Andres says this is a common occurrence. College students get towed more often than other Denton residents, he said.

“It’s not like we try to hide anything,” he said. “Our signs are visible and nine times out of 10, we come out because someone called us. We aren’t out just waiting for them.”

Reviews of On the Road Again on websites like Yelp and Citysearch call the tow truck drivers “scum of the Earth” and “predatory pieces of filth.”

Andres has also been told to “get a real job” while he was driving a tow truck.

“We’re always the bad guy,” he said. “Unless you’re broken down or in a wreck, then we’re the good guys because we come out and save you.”

When Andres isn’t at work, he likes to spend time with his four kids. He also coaches two select baseball teams, watches his son play baseball for Lake Dallas and takes his daughter to horseback riding lessons.

A perk of the job is that Andres sets his own hours. Some days, he comes in at 8 a.m. to work in the office and leaves at 8 p.m. Other days, he comes in at 9 p.m. to do night runs and leaves at 9 a.m.

“The money’s pretty good, too,” he said.

On the Road Again charges $250 to get passenger cars out of the lot and a “drop fee” of $125. A drop fee is charged when the owner of a car comes before the car is completely hooked up to the tow truck.

Employees at On the Road Again work seven days a week, all day and night. They also work every holiday.

“There’s always going to be a wreck. There’s always going to be an arrest. There’s always going to be someone broken down,” Andres said. “We can’t miss a police call, so it’s around-the-clock all year.”

At the end of the day, Andres realizes he has a tough job. There are no in-between feelings about tow truck drivers.

“We’re not as mean as everybody thinks,” he said. “It’s unfortunate to get towed but we’re here to do a job. We didn’t park your car there for you.”

Feature photo: A tow truck sits in the lot of On the Road Again towing waiting to be used. On the Road Again has seven tow trucks in their fleet. “The rule is every time you go out, you have to bring a vehicle back in,” manager Joey Andres said. Photo by Caitlyn Jones / Staff Writer 

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