Vehicles towed for some attending State Fair Owners who parked at lot nearby charged $120 fee

August 27, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Parking near the Timonium fairgrounds proved costly for several people who attended the State Fair on Sunday night, when their cars were towed from a shopping center lot across the street.

The towing fee was $120.

Baltimore County police said they received several calls from irate people about their cars being towed from the Timonium Shopping Center parking lot.

One of them, Richard N. Smith of Cockeysville, said he had paid to park there -- giving an attendant $4 when he arrived about 9: 40 p.m. to take his 10-year-old godson for a brief visit to the fair's midway.

When they returned at 11: 15 p.m., the car was gone and a driver from Rhine Towing and Auto Transportation was taking away others to a storage lot near York and Timonium Roads, Smith said.

"I should have known when I gave my $4 to the attendant and got nothing back that this was a scam," he said.

Stephen D. Rhine Jr. said his company was contracted by the shopping center operator, Tristar Management Inc., to tow all cars parked in the lot that did not have permits displayed in the front windshield. He said he towed about 10 cars from the lot Sunday.

Tristar Management could not be reached for comment, but Rhine said the shopping center operator also brought in a parking lot business to operate the lot. "Our orders were that when the shopping center closes, all the cars without permits and that do not belong there are supposed to be towed."

Rhine said signs posted in the lot clearly state that cars without permits will be towed.

A police spokesman, Sgt. Kevin B. Novak, said Smith was the only person who complained that he had been ripped off by a parking attendant.

"As far as any kind of scam out there, we have no evidence of that," Novak said. "We did get some complaints that cars were being towed, but the officers found that everything was legitimate."

Max Mosner, the State Fair's general manager, said lots on the fairgrounds operated by fair employees can accommodate about 1,500 cars a day. Those spots are taken quickly by employees and exhibitors, making parking tight for the approximately 75,000 people who attended Sunday.

"I wish we had another 100 acres for people to park on, but we don't," he said. "It's disappointing when something like this happens. That's why we encourage people to take the light rail to the fair."

Pub Date: 8/27/96

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