Police warn of unmarked tow trucks being used to steal cars in Philadelphia

Police in Philadelphia are warning of a fleet of unmarked tow trucks being used to carry out vehicle thefts. 

The Philadelphia Police Department on Friday said the thefts have happened across the city, but have mainly occurred in the south and southwest sections. 

In many of the thefts, police say the actor will come to the vehicle owner's front door and demand money to prevent their car from being towed. 

According to investigators, the vehicle owners are told that their car is on a 311 list. Philly311 is the city's non-emergency line used for reporting abandoned vehicles, among other things. 


The suspects, who police said are all men, later return to the property and carry out the vehicle theft. 

Police say the cars being targeted have expired temporary tag, flat tires, debris surrounding the car and expired registration. Another "key factor" identified by police in the thefts include vehicles left unattended for an extended period of time and outdated inspection stickers.

Officials said Neighborhood Services Personnel and Salvors will not knock on doors prior to towing or use unmarked/modified tow trucks with red/blue lights and sirens. Vehicles owners won't be asked for money and tows will not happen overnight or after dark. 

Authorities said anyone who believes their vehicle is being illegally towed should call 911.