Montrose is one of Houston's oldest neighborhoods. It has a lot of "atmosphere" and is the center of the gay community. Museums, parks and resale shops abound. Some might call it eclectic. It also has a growing population of drug-crazed and homeless teenagers and 20-somethings. Covenant House and Interfaith Ministries cater to, and bring in, these homeless kids to feed them and provide free medical services. So the kids "hang-out" and roam the surrounding streets in gangs all day and night. I live smack-dab in the middle of all this.
My name is Friday. I'm a citizen. We're seeing a new scam and I'm gonna tell.
Starbuck's is around the corner from my townhouse. It's located in a small strip-center with 5 other businesses and they all share a common car park. The management company that operates this car park contracts to Z Wrecker Company to tow unauthorized vehicles, 24/7. The individual drivers of the towing company have discretion to decide if a car is legally parked or not. That is where the insanity begins.
Myself and fellow townhouse owners park in an off-street covered parking area, secured by a remote-controlled security gate. We keep our little remote "clickers" on key rings or in our respective cars. Last Wednesday night, in the middle of the night, my next-door neighbor's car was stolen - from the secure parking area! It was duly reported to the police on Thursday but there's little they can do. blah blah blah Friday morning, my neighbor received a call from the City of Houston Impound Yard. They had her car and told her it would cost $230 to retrieve it. It had been towed there from Starbuck's. Towed there by Z Wrecker Company.
Here's the scam (not too difficult to figure out). The wrecker drivers are stealing cars and/or paying homeless kids a $20 spot (can you buy crack for $20 a hit?) to do the deed for them. The drivers possess "universal remotes" that can open any remote gate. The stolen cars are then driven to Starbuck's parking area and towed from there. Unfrickenbelievable. Now it's a "legal" tow.
The driver gets $160 for the tow; the impound yard gets $35/day for storage. From that $160 I suspect the driver pays a few dollars to the kid to steal the car and maybe the Starbuck's manager as well. Everybody makes money. Except, of course, for the honest citizen who pays for it.
Simple plan. No witnesses. Impossible to prove. The police look the other way. They can't be bothered.
So now we concerned citizens are shelling out $2000 for a video security system. Maybe that will help. Maybe not.
It's very sad to watch as this wonderful old neighborhood is becoming a ghetto. But we are gathering steam with television coverage, meetings with the offending businesses and will be attending city council sessions to complain. They will probably want to discuss it for a year or two so as not to offend the homeless kids or the not-for-profit businesses that enable them.
In the meantime, our property values spiral downwards. Who, in their right mind, would buy a property here if they knew what was going on?