INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - Managers at local tow companies are calling a weekend incident a scary reminder of the dangers tow truck drivers often face while on the job.
A driver for Hix Wrecker Service called police to report somebody had shot out the driver side window of his truck at the Madison Village Apartments late Saturday night.
The driver said it happened as he was hooking up a vehicle for towing. The driver told his manager it may have been young people playing with a pellet gun, using his truck as a target. The driver was not hurt, but the window was shattered.
Jamie Neal, Operations Manager for Hix Wrecker Service, says he’s thankful his driver wasn’t sitting behind the wheel when the widow was shot out.
“I can replace that truck, I can’t replace a driver’s life,” Neal said.
Neal says the driver was shaken up after the incident. He calls it the latest example of tow truck drivers suddenly finding themselves in scary situations on the job. He says one of his company’s drivers was held at gunpoint about a year ago.
“I know of other towing companies that have had their drivers robbed and beaten almost to the point of losing their life,” Neal said.
Just over a year ago, 47-year old Stephen Deputy, a driver for Indy’s Finest, was shot and killed at the Capital Place Apartments on the south side of Indianapolis. Soon after the fatal shooting, police said it may have been related to an armed robbery in the nearby area.
Lois Wilson, a manager for Zore’s inc., says drivers often encounter people who are upset about having their vehicles towed away.
“We’ve had drivers that have had guns pulled out on them, baseball bats,” Wilson said.
She recalls a driver who was threatened by one particularly upset individual.
“He went back inside his apartment and actually came out with a chainsaw and told the diver he was not getting his vehicle,” Wilson said.
Aside from upset vehicle owners, Wilson says she’s had drivers called out to locations as a setup for robbery, where a driver suddenly finds himself surrounded by waiting individuals. For that reason, Zore’s drivers no longer carry cash on them.
“We simply pay everything by check, so our drivers do not carry cash on them,” Wilson said.
Neal says his company has become more cautious and selective about where drivers respond to overnight calls.
“If we have a call that we’re not sure if it’s a safe time for them to go, or if it’s an area where we know has had a lot issues with crime, we will ask the owner can we do that tomorrow morning in daylight,” Neal said.
“I’m going to protect our drivers,” Neal said. “The money’s not worth it, I want our drivers safe.”