Man makes dash for it as city tries towing car with expired tags

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CALVERTON Park, Mo. – Call it a man’s last-ditch effort to save his car from a north St. Louis County municipality trying to tow it for having expired plates.

Calverton Park Police and Code Enforcement Lieutenant Sean Gibbons tried to tow Jeff Stiehr’s vehicle in August. The city called it a derelict vehicle or, in other words, the plates had expired tags.

“He knew what my situation was,” Stiehr said. “I jumped in my car and said, ‘You’re not taking it.’”

Stiehr said he just started a new job making decent money and needed the car to get to work. He jumped in the driver’s seat to avoid the tow truck.

“I pulled forward a little bit to back up and I went through the yard,” Stiehr said.

Stiehr said he never saw police in his rearview mirror. He ended up driving more than seven miles before crashing on I-270.

“I sat in the car for a minute. I felt my phone, called my mom, and that’s when I opened my door, and probably a minute or two later he [Gibbons] pulled up,” Stiehr said.

Stiehr was never charged with a felony that day, but he got hit with several citations.

Calverton Park will notify Bolin Services, also known as A2B Towing, when the city has a vehicle that needs to be towed.

“When it comes to any type of towing, recovery, we are usually the first call,” Kurtis Barks, Bolin Services owner, said. “There’s no written agreement between Calverton Park. There’s no written agreement between a lot of cities because we offer them the best rates that we can and based on their needs.”

Barks tows for 37 other municipalities. In Calverton Park, he said they’ve towed roughly 60 vehicles this year. Most of the cars were never returned to their owners.

“Two-thirds of the people never showed up,” Barks said.

Barks said he mostly eats the cost when towing out of Calverton Park. He usually turns the vehicle into a scrapyard, which will net him a few hundred bucks.

“The people just don’t show back up. We notify them within 24–48 hours. We notify them within 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, and these folks just don’t come get their cars. They have no intention to,” Barks said.

Barks said he keeps the relationship with Calverton Park because he supports law enforcement and first responders.

“No matter what. It’s not about money. It’s about doing the right thing,” Barks said.

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Gibbons told FOX Files earlier this year that expired plates and expired temp tags are considered a safety violation and nuisance that affects public health.

“A warning is sent out giving 10 days to remove the vehicle,” Gibbons said. “When you remove those vehicles, there’s snakes, vermin such as mice, rats, all kinds of other mammals.”

Stiehr said there was nothing wrong with his car other than it having an expired plate.

“I just couldn’t get it inspected and legal at the time,” Stiehr said.

Despite his best effort, Stiehr’s car did get towed. He also got slapped with a $331 bill, something Calverton Park calls a “special tax bill for nuisance abatement costs.

Stiehr said Calverton Park and the lieutenant who wanted his car towed put him into a deeper financial crunch.

“He ruined my life. That’s all I’m going to say,” Stiehr said. “He took everything I had.”

Gibbons did not respond to our request for a comment.

ArchCity Defenders filed a federal lawsuit against Calverton Park, alleging civil rights violations.

The FOX Files reached out to Calverton Park Mayor James Paunovich, but he had no comment.

Paunovich then sent us the form that he said is given to people on how to retrieve their vehicle if it’s towed.


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