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Woman says city tow truck damaged her car

"[He] literally shoved the hatchback shut. When I raised it up, it completely fell off. It fell off the hinge," Sandra McCaw said.

UPDATE: The City Streets Director Jamie Wilson tells the I-Team the car was damaged before the vehicle was towed. Wilson also says they don't tow cars from the rear, and that the doors were locked. They provided a photo taken at the time of the tow. We have blurred the license plate.

The City Streets Director Jamie Wilson tells the I-Team the car was damaged before the vehicle was towed. Wilson also says they don't tow cars from the rear, and that the doors were locked. We have blurred the license plate.

If you don't pay your parking tickets, you risk having your car towed. It's just a fact of life. But one St. Louis woman said she got more than she deserved when the city towed her vehicle.

The first mistake, she admits, was hers.

"When I got off work, my car was gone. I had five tickets, so they ticketed it and towed it," said Sandra McCaw.

Every day, she parks her 2004 Mini Cooper on the street near the Cortex. McCaw said she paid her tickets, the boot fee and the tow fee the next day. But when she finally got to see her car at the City Service Tow Lot in North St. Louis, the damage was apparent.

First, the back hatch was open.

"So I raised it up and tried to close it. I couldn't close it," McCaw said.

She said she complained to an employee who made matters worse when he tried to close the hatch.

"[He] literally shoved the hatchback shut. When I raised it up, it completely fell off. It fell off the hinge," McCaw said.

And McCaw said she quickly spotted scratches going all along the top of the car. She said it also appeared that her personal belongings in the car had been rifled through.

When McCaw tried to report the alleged crime she said the St. Louis police wouldn't even take the report.

A spokesperson for the police department told the ITeam:

"The female alleged that the damage was made while the vehicle was in the custody of City Tow. City Tow advised her to make a claim with them. Because this is a civil matter, a report was not necessary."

"So I'm crying," McCaw said. The only good news? "[The manager] told me, 'calm down, we will fix this for you.'"

But two weeks later, McCaw said she hasn't heard a thing from the lot.

So, repair bill in hand, we went looking for that manager, Ed Young.

I-Team: "Are you going to pay for the repairs?"

Young: "Oh yeah, but we have, um, to do an investigation."

I-Team: "McCaw says somebody went through it, broke in?"

Young: "No, the car was actually already damaged and it was rusted. She's trying to say it was my guys. It never happened."

I-Team: "Do you damage cars like this a lot?"

Young: "No."

I-Team: "So this doesn't happen?"

Young: "No, this was the back door. We don't tow anything from the back door."

The repairs ultimately cost McCaw almost four hundred dollars.

"They were supposed to tow my car, not go in my items, not go in my car, not break my car," said McCaw.

A city spokesperson said that there is a way that McCaw might get reimbursed for her repairs: file a complaint through the citizen's service bureau. Then, the city will do an investigation and decide if it's going to cover any of the cost.

Missouri state law says that tow companies are liable for damage to the vehicle once they start removing it.

The paperwork that authorizes a tow should tell you the condition it was in before anyone moved it.

You’re allowed to view your car and check for damage at the lot, for no additional fee.

Tow companies can ask you to arrange payment before letting you get personal items out of the car,

but they must hand over prescribed medications regardless of whether you pay the bill.

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