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Stolen Trailer Victim Faces $650 Towing Bill

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SAN JUAN – A robbery took place at a business located in San Juan off Raul Longoria Road.

On Wednesday, at Arturo Zamarripa's business, Air Tech Air Conditioning, he noticed there was a different site.  

A burglar broke through Zamarripa's gate that be seen on surveillance footage.

"I went to the gate and I was concerned with how did they open the lock.” Zamarripa said. “It looked like the lock was cut, not a clean cut, but more like a bolt cutter cut."

They made off with an enclosed box trailer and its contents. Zamarripa said the trailer and contents are worth about $8,000.

"I was feeling concerned about my equipment my tools,” Zamarripa said. “I mean that kind of makes my living is my tools."

Later that night, good news came in from San Juan police. The trailer was found in Mission and towed to a private towing company.

"I was like oh what a big relief, at least I don't have any expenses other than what tools or items I may have lost from the inside,” Zamarripa said.

He paid a private towing company $650 including $140 for recovery, $110 for waiting time and a $120 fuel surcharge, plus labor and towing.

"I would like for my money to be refunded. Or at least if there is any charges to be charges that are again not so high,” Zamarripa said.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to the state agency which licenses towing companies.

“This bill appears legitimate. I made sure the tow company, tow operator and VSF was licensed and in good standing and it is,” said Susan Stanford of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

It's not a surprise to Abraham Padron with Safeguard Insurance in Mcallen. He's seen tow company charges all over the place when paying insurance claims.

"Many different towing companies, as well as impound storage companies, they have different rates,” said Padron. “One may charge you $100 a day and the other may charge you $300 per day.”

Padron said insurance can pay for stolen property or trailers only if you have comprehensive and towing coverage. Trailers must have their own insurance. It is still a case-by-case basis.

"You as the insured, report any incident if your vehicle is stolen. Make sure you report it immediately and not wait days before you do that,” Padron said.

From our research, it looks like insurance may be Zamarripa's only hope for recouping some of the costs.

San Juan Police were unavailable to comment on whether the person responsible for the theft was caught.

Another police department we spoke with said in many cases, tow companies will cut victims of theft a break.

In other cases, police will let a property owner come pick up a vehicle to avoid towing.

Still, it is always possible when a private towing company is involved, the victim will have to pay.

Stanford said there is a cap for private property towing. Companies can only charge up to $250 for private property tows.

But when it comes to recovery tows, such as with stolen property, there are no caps.

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