LODI (CBS13) — A towing company in Lodi is under investigation on suspicion of running a chop shop. Police say PA Towing was caught on camera stealing a truck that was legally parked in a residential neighborhood. The truck was later found inside the company’s tow yard already in the process of being stripped.
“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that the tow truck actually had the nerve to outright steal it,” said a Lodi man who didn’t want to be identified.
It was Sunday morning when the man woke up to find his late father’s truck gone.
“Violated, violated,” he said.
He says his truck had been parked in front of his home.
“No reason at all for it to get towed.”
But it did get towed illegally, according to police. A neighbor’s surveillance footage captured the crime on camera in the early morning hours. One photo shows the silver truck hooked up to a “PA towing” tow truck. The neighbor told CBS13 it was hauled off moments later.
The victim says he joined police at the tow yard where the truck was found with parts already removed and the VIN number scratched off.
“They’re no good people and they don’t belong in Lodi,” the victim said.
PA Towing operates under the business name Cali’s Finest Parking Authority. The owner, Fred Manwill, has a valid motor carrier permit through the state and a local business license.
“We don’t steal from people,” said Manwill.
Manwill says he was also a victim of theft the night the crime occurred, saying someone stole his tow truck and then used it to steal another vehicle.
“Somebody’s going to jail and it has nothing to do with us. Our truck was stolen out of our yard,” said Manwill.
But police say after finding a stolen truck stripped apart, they’re now investigating the towing company as a potential chop shop. They also say the company’s tow truck was impounded after finding it had an expired registration, no license plates and the man driving it had a suspended license.
The case has now been handed to the Delta Ratts – a countywide auto theft task force in Stanislaus County.