If you’re getting towed, it’s probably not a good day.
“When we’re calling for a tow, it’s most important to us that it’s an honest and reputable tow company,” East Pennsboro Police Chief Mark Green said.
In November, an ABC27 investigation into West Shore Regional and Camp Hill police departments uncovered concerns drivers were being overcharged because police almost exclusively required them to use the towing company G.A. Smith, where the police chiefs knew a mechanic.
Camp Hill has since changed its towing policy.
In the months following the initial investigation, ABC27 received more than 50 calls, emails, and messages on social media asking why East Pennsboro Township uses one towing company, Magaro’s Auto Sales and Towing. There were also questions from the public about ethics; two East Pennsboro Township commissioners are related to the owner of Magaro’s.
ABC27 filed Right to Know requests and went through hundreds of documents.
“When you ran the story and came in and looked at, you know, our towing practices and policies, that made us actually get out and read our towing practices and policies,” Green said.
At that point, Green says township commissioners realized an ordinance required them to bid out township towing services every three years. They had not been doing that, so they immediately put out a request for towing companies to submit proposals.
“It’s for kind of a fundamental fairness,” Green said.
Magaro’s was the only towing company that applied.
Public records show East Pennsboro Township has been using Magaro’s for towing long before Kristy and Skip Magaro were elected to the board. East Pennsboro sources say the township had a relationship with Magaro’s towing when Kristy Magaro, the owner’s daughter, was “in diapers.”
Public records also show East Pennsboro police frequently allow drivers to use the towing company of their choice. Police say they use their own vendor if a driver’s company can’t get to the scene fast enough, or if the driver doesn’t have a preference.
Police were quick to give ABC27 all requested records, and say they welcome calls from anyone who has questions about their towing practices.
“I believe we’re very transparent and we want to maintain the utmost of ethics and transparency,” Green said.