Somerville towing company busted for allegedly towing 100+ cars in under 2 weeks unlicensed

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A towing company in Somerville that tried to defy the odds by towing more than 100 vehicles in less than two weeks without a license has been told to knock it off.

Quick Towing Services had yet to receive a license from the city to commence operations before it allegedly towed over 100 vehicles between Oct. 5 and Oct. 16, and the business is accused of failing to report the towings to police, city records show.

Police last Monday contacted owner Luciano Quintanilha and told him to cease towing vehicles until he receives “proper approval from the city,” according to a police report.

The City Council’s Licenses and Permits Committee last week did not recommend awarding a license to the business due to the wrongdoings.

“We have an applicant that has been operating illegally,” Council President Ben Ewen-Campen said. “This is a business that I am not comfortable licensing to operate in Somerville.”

A woman who identified herself as Susan Shannon, and spoke on behalf of Quintanilha, told the Herald on Saturday the applicant started the licensing process last December, and the company began using a tow yard in East Somerville last month.

The City Council on Sept. 14 referred the application for recommendation, putting it to committee. But Shannon said she believed that meant the company was allowed to start operating.

“One part is the fault of the company who misunderstood the city,” Shannon said. “On the other hand, what (the city is) doing is really bad because we are just trying to work like everybody else.”

Police caught wind of the activity when Sgt. Samir Messaoudi received a call Oct. 14 from someone whose car was towed from a Home Depot parking lot for trespassing, a report states.

The caller raised concerns about how the towing company only accepted cash or Venmo payments, and it took pictures of a vehicle owner’s license and ID cards and sent them via WhatsApp.

“A query in the QED system revealed no record of the towed vehicle,” the report states. “Upon further investigation, a second vehicle towed from the same location was also not found in our records.”

The next day, police responded to the Quick Towing tow yard to deescalate a verbal altercation between vehicle owners and employees. Officers observed the property lacking power, office space or a bathroom.

Quintanilha stored records of towed vehicles on his phone but did not report them to police, a violation of the law, the report states.

“That is certainly a concern for our department and the city administration,” City Clerk Kimberly Wells said, “and something I think the council should be aware of.”

Shannon claims the business reported every towed vehicle to police and kept a maximum of eight to 10 cars in the yard at a time. Quintanilha eyed Somerville as the second location for his business in addition to his first in Groveland, she said.

“It doesn’t make any sense if you have your car towed in Somerville, you have to drive at least 40 minutes to get your back,” she said. “That’s why we’ve been trying to get the license and the business active for almost a year.”

Councilor Willie Burnley Jr., who chairs the Licenses and Permits Committee, said he didn’t believe it would’ve been appropriate to recommend approving a license for the company under the circumstances.

“I believe this committee has shown great restraint generally and patience with applicants when they come before us,” he said. “But I have to say it is quite concerning the amount of towing that was described in a fairly short amount of time. Over 100 vehicles seems kind of astounding.”

Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald

Tow company at 30 Joy St. Somerville on Saturday. (Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald)

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