NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A tow truck driver was arrested after he tried to repossess a private vehicle driven by an NYPD detective.
CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports he’s now out of jail, but the problems didn’t end there.
The NYPD has had a boot on Jose Rodriguez’s tow truck for almost two weeks, preventing him from doing his job.
Ironically, his boss says he got the boot because he was doing his job.
On May 30, the company Finest Towing was alerted that a bank wanted a car on Richmond Terrace for repossession.
Rodriguez hooked it up for a tow and abruptly found out the driver was a detective at the 120th precinct across the street.
Finest Towing manager Caroline DeStefano had just authorized the tow.
“He called me right back and he didn’t speak. I just heard him say, ‘I didn’t see a plaque in the window.’ He hung up,” she said. “I knew it had to be a cop’s car because I heard him say ‘a plaque.'”
DeStefano says Rodriguez was then surrounded by a couple of off-duty cops.
“Then they called over other cops, and he got arrested for having a stolen car when we had a repossession order for it,” DeStefano said.
The detective allegedly offered to pay Rodriguez for the three missed car payments, but Finest Towing says it’s illegal for it to collect debt. Only the bank can do that, and only the bank can authorize a car to be released.
Allegedly, police took the car off the tow truck themselves and put Rodriguez in jail for about a day.
“[The detective] used his authority to drop the car himself,” DeStefano said.
DeStefano says the officers confiscated the truck’s cameras, but one photo of an officer dismantling a recording device was automatically uploaded to a storage cloud.
Rodriguez says when he was first arrested, he was charged with a felony for possession of stolen property, but then when he appeared in court, his charges were changed to misdemeanors.
The Staten Island District Attorney charges Rodriguez’s truck did not display its license plate properly and he did not have a New York City towing license.
The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs says drivers who pick up tows are required to have a DCA license, but Finest Towing and several others CBS2 spoke with argue it depends on the tow. They say you don’t need a DCA license for repossession jobs because those are considered private, unlike for-hire tows, such as when a car is disabled or in an accident.
Monday on NY1, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about the incident.
“I haven’t seen the details, but if it is that kind of thing, that’s unacceptable and there would be huge consequences for those cops,” he said.
Rodriguez and his attorney won’t speak on camera, but they met with the NYPD internal affairs bureau Monday night.
The NYPD declined CBS2’s multiple requests for an interview.