BERKELEY, Mo. (KSDK) - A graveyard shift worker got stuck on Interstate 70. His stuck car turned into a stolen car in less than two hours.
"Someone was supposed to tow it for me," said Mitch Mattingly.
He said he called Berkeley Police. An operator told him to call Airport Towing to see if they had it.
"I had two other calls prior to his" said John Garagnani, owner of Airport Towing.
"(I was) pretty sure I knew what was going on by then. A rogue tow truck operator is picking these things up and taking them to a shredder," said Garagnani.
Garagnani is also the head of the Tow Truck Association. He said he saw a rash of fly by night tow truck thieves last year. They took two of his trucks, too.
"It's easy money for them; they're just out for fuel for their vehicle," he said.
Garagnani said thieves sell cars by weight. Most often, they may end up with only a couple of hundred dollars.
Mitch Mattingly reported his stolen vehicle to the Berkeley Police Department.
Major Art Jackson, assistant chief of Berkeley police, said he's seen these kinds of incidents before. His officers usually check the scrap yards first. They normally don't recover the cars. The fly-by-night tow truck thieves were arrested and went to jail last year. His officers are going to investigate if Mattingly may have been a victim of a new group of tow truck thieves. Mattingly knows his car may be gone for good.
Garagnani said he wants lawmakers to change the laws to stop these thieves. He said they should have to have licenses and meet state requirements for tow trucks just like he does. He also wants scrap yards to keep records of every car they crush.
In the meantime, if you break down on the highway, call a tow truck right away. If it's going to take a while, call 911 or police and tell them your car is there.