Tow Truck Operator Targets LGBT Drivers During Gay Days

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com July 27 2014 12:29 PM ET

A tow truck operator in Florida was arrested Friday for illegally towing cars during Gay Days in Orlando.

Jason Combs, 45, towed more than 100 cars between June 5-9, according to the Associated Press. After being accused of specifically targeting the cars of LGBT attendees, Combs faces 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle, and other charges, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Combs allegedly tasked others with watching the area specifically to identify cars to be towed.

"With many of these people, their cars were towed within 5, 10 15 minutes [of parking]," Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said according to the Sentinel. "This was total predator towing. There's really no other word for it."

According to the AP, the company, ASAP Towing, made at least $16,000 towing the cars. The company's contract with the Westwood Town Center — across the street from the host hotel, where Gay Days participants parked — had expired by the time the event took place, and was not renewed until after Gay Days.

Additionally, the Sentinel reports, ASAP Towing violated Florida law both by towing the cars to a location more than 10 miles away, and by charging drives a $40 gate fee, which is not permitted under state law.

Schmeltzer said the tow company targeted cars at Gay Days activities last year as well. The company made a "minuscule amount of tows" during similar events that did not take place during Gay Days.

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