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Towing industry, tourists react to man accused of illegally towing vehicles in Surf City

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) - Professionals in the towing industry are shocked to hear of a man posing as a tow truck operator scamming beachgoers in Surf City.

“I don’t recall ever hearing about this around here,” said Daniel Huffman, assistant manager of Mr. Rescue Towing.

But, tourists aren’t surprised one bit.

“It’s the world we are living in these days,” said tourist Darrell Campbell. “Everybody is trying to take advantage of someone everywhere.”

Charles Dowd of Hampstead has been charged with obtaining property by false pretenses, extortion and embezzlement.

Dowd’s first court date was Friday, July 30 and his next date will be Tuesday, August 17.

Detectives say he was hired to transport the tow truck, but decided to target vehicles in the town instead.

“Basically hooked up to the vehicle, waiting for the owners to come and once he began speaking with the owners, he just offered a drop fee instead of towing the vehicle,” said Detective Mike Hackett with Surf City Police.

A drop fee of $200 that he would pocket.

So, what should you do if you don’t feel a tow truck company is legitimate? Police say to call the company’s number on the side of the tow truck for confirmation or call law enforcement.

As for what the industry is doing to crack down on towing scams, professionals believe local companies will keep a closer eye on their drivers and their vehicles.

“Most of the trucks here in town have a GPS on them, so you can tell pretty much where your trucks are at any given time,” said Huffman. “I think they will be a little more cautious and a little bit more up on that.”

Police hope this incident will help keep neighbors and visitors vigilant if another fake driver tries to pull their chain.

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