EULESS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Customers of a Denny’s restaurant say at least one North Texas tow company is crossing the line.
Since the beginning of June, police in Euless have received at least 22 calls about towing at the Denny’s near Airport Freeway and North Industrial Boulevard.
The restaurant recently hired Texas Tow Stars to haul away vehicles of people who park there but do not eat there.
John Litton says he planned to eat at the Denny’s with his wife. He arrived early, parked behind the restaurant and walked to the nearby Office Depot to pick up something for his daughter.
Minutes later, he came out and found his pickup gone. ”
I thought it was stolen,” said Litton. Two men told him it had been towed.
“For someone to hook up and tow a car in five minutes or less, they’re not doing the proper hook-ups,” Litton said, shaking his head.
Litton called police and was speaking with officers as his wife Terri arrived. They decided to eat breakfast before picking up John’s truck.
“We eat, go to pay, and while I’m paying she goes to check her car,” said John. “It’s gone!”
Aziz had returned to the lot and towed Terri’s car without her knowledge. She says the restaurant manager told her he had video of her walking into the Starbucks next door before coming to Denny’s, something Terri denies.
Eventually the manager relented and had the truck operator bring back her car, free of charge.
The Ones For Justice found several complaints of illegal towing against Texas Tow Stars and driver Kareem “Sami” Aziz.
Three police reports involve Aziz almost towing vehicles with people inside. In other reports officers said Aziz towed cars without written consent from Denny’s, a violation of city ordinance. On multiple occasions police say Aziz drove off while towing unsecured vehicles.
Aziz has been arrested once and received several citations related to towing.
When our CBS11 crew approached Aziz outside the restaurant he called the police and said we were trespassing. It was the second time in two hours that officers had been called to the Denny’s; police left without issuing any citations.
A spokesperson for Denny’s initially defended the towing practice, saying “we believe our guests should have first priority to our parking area.” One day later, the company reversed its decision and said it was “suspending this practice.”
For the Littons, the fight isn’t over. John says he plans to sue over the $300 he had to pay to retrieve his pickup. “In my opinion, they stole my truck.”
First statement from Denny’s:
We believe our guests should have first priority to our parking area when dining at our restaurant. At the location in Euless, we have experienced problems with non-guests parking in the Denny’s lot in order to visit other adjacent businesses like Office Depot, Taco Cabana and Starbucks, thereby taking up spaces that should be available for our paying guests, especially during peak periods. Parking spaces in the lot are clearly marked “For Denny’s Patrons Only.’”
Second statement from Denny’s:
After looking into the details of this practice with our franchisee, and although we are empathetic with his desire to make sure there are spaces available for his guests, the franchisee is suspending this practice. We apologize for any inconvenience this practice may have caused for our guests and others.
“While Paul Spencer, a corporate spokesperson for Denny’s, maintains the Euless location is no longer towing cars, two sources confirm cars have recently been towed.
A spokeswoman with the Euless Police Department confirms officers responded to a call at the Denny’s Wednesday night after an individual’s car was towed.
Another driver contacted the Ones for Justice on Thursday afternoon, saying his car was towed four minutes after he left the vehicle in the Denny’s parking lot to visit Office Depot.
On Thursday afternoon, a manager at the Denny’s in Euless said they ordered the company to stop towing vehicles from the lot.
Texas Tow Stars did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
As of Thursday afternoon, The Ones for Justice did not spot any tow trucks near the Denny’s parking lot, however, multiple signs prohibiting parking for non-patrons were still posted.