Cook County Towing in Humboldt Park has been publicly criticized by legal officials and citizens for illegally towing cars from accidents and patterns of reckless driving.
The Chicago Police Department reports that ten Cook County Towing truck drivers have been arrested in the last three years. Only three of these arrests responded to vehicular violations like expired driver’s licenses and breaking traffic laws, while seven were connected to crimes like aggravated assault, drug possession, possession of police scanners, issuance of warrants, and tower solicitation.
While only one 2020 arrest was on a charge of towing solicitation, the company has become locally notorious for ambulance chasing– a type of towing solicitation that often goes unreported.
A term originally used to describe lawyers who solicit clientele at the scene of accidents, ambulance chasers are rogue drivers who use police scanners to locate traffic accidents and tow cars from the scene without notice or permission from law enforcement or vehicle owners. Ambulance chasers profit from holding towed vehicles hostage and charging owners thousands of dollars to reclaim their car. The Illinois Supreme Court has deemed ambulance chasing illegal and is considered an unethical practice.
Diane from Country Club Hills, who has chosen to omit her last name, recounts Cook County Towing illegally impounding her mother’s car after an accident at O’Hare Airport before her insurance issued tow truck could arrive. “We couldn’t find my mom’s car for three days”, Diane said. “When our insurance traced the car to Cook County Towing, their phone number was disconnected, you couldn’t leave a voicemail, and there were no posted hours online. My mom’s 80 year old husband had to drive there four separate times with thousands of dollars in cash and just wait because there was no way to know when they would be open. It took six days to get the car back from them. Then when we got the car, it had dents and scratches that weren’t there after the accident which Cook County Towing did not pay to fix. It was just awful- nobody wanted to work with us, we couldn’t get a hold of anyone, and we had to pay $1,300 to get the car when it would have been free through insurance”.
CCT’s traffic violation record spans from speeding, illegal passing and turns, invalid licenses, and hit and runs. The Chicago Police Department’s Freedom of Information Act has listed CCT’s involvement in 26 reported traffic accidents and crashes since January 2019. The company was connected to more than a dozen incidents of motor vehicle theft and property damage in the same time frame.
35th Ward alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa began hearing complaints from his residents about CCT drivers months ago. “Residents near Athletic Field Park would call multiple times a week to report CCT trucks driving at egregious speeds, nearly hitting children and pedestrians, illegally parking, as well as verbally accosting people who confronted them- some encounters nearly ending in physical altercations”, said the Alderman. The alderman released a public letter requesting a meeting with the company manager Edmond Hanna to discuss the danger Cook County Towing is imposing on Irving Park residents. The alderman’s office never received a response.
Will C. from Albany Hills Illinois witnessed their reckless driving first hand. “At the beginning of June, I was preparing to turn left from Montrose to Kimball when a Cook County Tow Truck came barrelling through the intersection. I had to slam on my brakes to try and not get hit, and so did plenty of other cars on the road. It seemed like the truck hit their brakes for a second to skid, and then continued to speed through the intersection. Then out of nowhere, a second CCT Truck came racing behind the first following the same path. I was really shaken up”.
Luke Allingham from uptown Chicago also experienced a near miss with a CCT driver. “Two years ago I was biking south Sheridan Road between Sheridan Shore and W Juneway Terrace, which has two wide lanes in each direction. A lot of city road cyclists use it as a main route to get in and out of the city when riding. Usually drivers are pretty good about passing cyclists in the left lane, giving plenty of room. I remember that a CCT truck came passed me in the right lane, rather than passing in the left like many do”, said Allingham. “It was a close encounter caused by reckless driving and lack of concern for human life”. Many other Chicagoans have taken to platforms like Yelp and Twitter to post discourse about their experiences with the company.
The company was listed as dissolved in 2020 but has not ceased operations. In light of 850 towing complaints in the state of Illinois over the last 18 months, Chicago now requires tow trucks to display a green licensing sticker and bans them from possessing police scanners or lights. According to ABC7 Chicago, Cook County Towing faces 13 citations for breaking these new ordinances.
Cook County Towing hung up the phone when asked for a comment.