Metro police officers are on the look out for tow trucks operating in Davidson County that steal cars by towing them away from neighborhoods, driveways or even the side of the interstate.
So far in 2013, 39 vehicles have been reported stolen by tow trucks. Of the stolen vehicles police have cleared five cases by arrest.
Nine cases were determined to be unfounded.
For the same time period in 2012, a total of 77 vehicles were reported stolen by tow trucks, police cleared 27 by arrest.
Eighteen of those cases were later determined to be unfounded.
Police said the tow truck driving thieves often target cars that are immobile, left on the side of the road or that are 12 years old or older.
In Tennessee, a person can sell a car to a salvage yard without the car's title if the car is 12 years or older.
Metro police have advocated for lawmakers to change that time period, in part because police officials said the economy has forced people to keep their cars longer.
That means more people are likely driving cars that are 12 years old or older.
Reputable towing companies, like Bailey's Wrecker Service in east Nashville, said rogue tow trucks hurt everyone in the industry.
In Davidson County, tow trucks and tow truck drivers are regulated by Metro Government.
“All reputable businesses will have a name on their truck and all wreckers that run in Davidson County have to have a wrecker permit,” Bailey's Wrecker Service driver Tony Thomas said. “All the wrecker drivers should have some sort of reflective something on their shirts.”
Also, if a wrecker tows a car when the driver is not present, state law requires the wrecker notify local law enforcement of the vehicle's vehicle identification number, registration information, license plate number and description of the vehicle.
The police or sheriff's department keeps a record of all that information.
Rogue wreckers cause concerns for reputable tow truck companies.
“It affects everybody in the wrecker industry if everybody in the industry if somebody is out in a tow truck stealing cars it's not good,” Thomas said.
If you believe your car has been stolen by a tow truck, contact your local authorities to see if the towing was legitimate.
If you see a suspicious tow truck in your area, call police.