For three seasons, reality television show junkies have tuned into South Beach Tow on the cable channel truTV to catch the absurd hi-jinks that occur when someone's car is jacked by Tremont Towing, one of the two companies that hitch cars in Miami Beach. Cameras follow Tremont employees as they go around the city picking up cars and getting into nasty confrontation with vehicle owners.
Of course, it's all a set up. Produced by a company owned by pop diva Jennifer Lopez, South Beach Tow implements over-the-top, staged reenactments of the day-today operations of Tremont. "I think the reality show is stupid, bizarre and cheesy," says Jonah Wolfson, one of four MIami Beach city commissioners who last year voted to give Tremont and its friendly competitor Beach Towing a tow rate increase.
"It is just another way for [Tremont] to make more money," Wolfson adds. "They look like schmucks."
See also: Beware of South Beach Tow Companies
And there is nothing entertaining about the real incidents involving irate car owners who show up at the Tremont and Beach Towing yards to get back their rides. For this week's cover story, New Times dug up the true-to-life complaints, lawsuits, and police incident reports that show towing on Miami Beach is not some Hollywood adventure.
Just recently, on June 4, Beach Towing manager Javier Gonzalez called the cops after a black Acura TL circled his tow yard twice. Four men in the car shouted obscenities at him. One of the suspects allegedly hurled a bottle at the building. A couple of hours later, the cops tracked down the driver, 19-year-old Adam Phillip-Nazar, at his apartment building. According to the incident report, Phillip-Nazar fessed up. "I know why you are here," he said. "Yes I threw that bottle."
The cops didn't take Phillip-Nazar to jail, but charged him with criminal mischief misdemeanor and gave him a notice to appear in court.
On April 17, 49-year-old MIami Beach resident Reiner Hondares allegedly attacked Gonzalez when he went to get his car out. According to the incident report, Gonzalez refused to release Hondares' ride because the man was "visibly intoxicated." An enraged Hondares allegedly punched Gonzalez on the side of his left temple. Gonzalez responded with a flurry of punches, striking Hondares in the left eye. Neither man was arrested.
The month before that, on March 12, Tremont Vice-President Many Diaz Jr. and his employee Wilmore Tapanes allege that Ariel Cusnir, the 42-year-old owner of 2010 Ford F-150, was so angry his pick-up truck got towed that he ran over Tapanes on his way out. According to the incident report, the Tremont employees claim Cusnir was backing his truck up when he intentionally hit Tapanes, who fell to the ground and complained of an injury to his left rib area. Cops reviewed video footage at the tow yard and concluded there was no evidence of criminal intent on Cusnir's part.
These are just a small sample of the crazy, volatile situations that happen whenever Beach Towing or Tremont hook a car. Now New Times wants to hear from you the readers.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Tell us your horror stories about getting towed in Miami Beach in the comments section. We'll reprint the best responses in a follow-up blog.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: