Lincoln Towing Service - Controversies


Starting in 1967, Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko wrote a series of articles about Cascio, that continued for over a decade. Royko claimed that "to intimidate those who objected, Cascio hung bats, blackjacks, chains and other pacifiers on his office wall. If a person tried to escape with his own car, Cascio's men would dance on his chest." Cascio sued Royko twice, but lost both suits.

As early as 1968, complaints were lodged against Lincoln Towing Service claiming that the company was towing cars without legal standing and threatening people who tried to reclaim automobiles without paying.

In 1971, the company became an issue during the 44th Ward aldermanic race. James Kargman, one of the candidates, called for a campaign to "hit Cascio in the pocketbook--where it hurts." Kargman worked to encourage several local businesses to cancel contracts with Lincoln Towing Service. In an interview, Cascio commented, "Most of these firms that canceled have informed me they'd be back after the aldermanic elections are over and the heat is off." Shortly after the aldermanic race, a mob of 300 people attacked a Lincoln Towing employee who was removing a car from a parking lot.

The Chicago City Council debated taking actions against the firm.

In 1972, Chicago folk singer Steve Goodman wrote the song "Lincoln Park Pirates" about Lincoln Towing Service. Although he originally only performed the song in Chicago, he was eventually convinced that the sentiments of the song were recognizable outside Chicago. Although initially Chicago stations would not play the song with Ross Cascio's name in it for fear of lawsuits, eventually it became known that Cascio was proud of the song and airplay followed.

In 1992, the firm, then headed by Steve Mash, was charged with possession of stolen vehicles after detectives witnessed the company's employees tow a car and the next day witnessed employees strip the car and transfer the materials to a scrap metal recycling company. The company and Mash were acquitted of the charges.

According to Illinois Commerce Commission Police Commander Craig Baner, Lincoln Towing Service had 2078 complaints from 2000-2005. However, with the volume of business the towing service conducts, the complaint rates are comparable with other towing companies in Illinois. During the same period, Lincoln Towing issued 139 full refunds, a percentage which Baner says the towing service compares with other companies.

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