NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In Queens, convenient free parking in a busy shopping district is costing unsuspecting drivers more than $100.
At the Plaza 48 parking lot in Astoria, it is a very quick hook for the unsuspecting.
The driver of a red SUV discovered just that Tuesday after realizing it had been towed.
“I live in Jersey, and that car is a rental car. Jesus,” Agosto Segurra, of North Bergen, told CBS 2′s Tony Aiello.
Signs posted at the shopping plaza just off Northern Boulevard offer a warning, but many who park there figure they can safely pop across the street for a few minutes to a competing shopping center.
That’s a mistake that will cost you $136.
“There’s someone looking at you. As soon as you go across the street, they’ll come and pick your car right away,” said Astoria resident Indira Randeep.
“Doesn’t matter for five minutes or 10 minutes…they will tow the car,” Moni Khan added.
The cars end up at ASAP Towing in Maspeth.
CBS 2 spoke with one driver who was towed on Sunday. That person was allegedly told to pay with cash and her request for a receipt was refused.
Both of those would be violations of city regulations.
When asked over the phone by CBS 2′s Aiello if he accepted credit cards, a manager of the towing company denied demanding cash payments. He also defended the quick-tow policy as perfectly legal.
The warning signs at the parking lot do appear to comply with city regulations, which tell the towing company how many signs must be put up, and how big the lettering on the signs must be.
“If I see someone, I will warn them: ‘Excuse me, don’t go across and leave your car over there,’” Randeep said.
The quick tow is an issue at several other shopping plazas in Queens, so read the fine print on the way in.
The towing company on 48th street is so infamous, livery cab drivers hang out there to give drivers who’ve been towed a ride to the lot.
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