JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When a crash happens or a car stalls, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has a rotation of 13 towing companies it calls to haul away vehicles. But the Sheriff's Office won't be relying on at least one of those companies for the next 10 months.
That's because the Sheriff's Office recently suspended Thompson Enterprises from its towing rotation after an investigation found the company was charging people extra fees beyond the going rate, one of several rules violations the agency discovered.
Sheriff Mike Williams notified the company Oct. 16 it would not be included on the list until August. "Thompson will receive no request for services from the JSO during the reference period. Govern yourself accordingly," Williams wrote in part.
Rules violations by Thompson Enterprises include assessing "inappropriate" fees and charging extra wrecker fees. In addition, the investigation found the company lacked a written agreement for towing from private property and that it did not disclose a company name change.
According to a rate list maintained by the Sheriff's Office, a towing company can make anywhere from $116 to $2,988 from a single traffic crash. Though towing companies can apply to join the agency's vendor list, the rates are set by JSO.
It's unclear how much the company charged. JSO has yet to release its full report on the investigation.
News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Ken Jefferson said there's a demand to be included in JSO's towing rotation because it becomes an automatic source of business for companies.
"When you get on this rotation list, it comes with a set of rules and those rules are…supposed to be strictly adhered to," Jefferson said. "Once you violate them, the Sheriff's Office is going to come down on you and the only way to come down on you is to take you off that list."