Tow truck driver refuses to give Toronto man’s van back unless more than $12K paid

Click to play video: '$12,480 bill for flat tire, owner can’t get van returned' $12,480 bill for flat tire, owner can’t get van returned
A Toronto-area man, whose vehicle broke down near Guelph last year, is still trying to get it back. As Global's Sean O'Shea reports, the tow truck company and body shop are demanding almost $13,000 and the man says his only problem was a flat tire – Mar 21, 2018

Baoxian Lan had just dropped his son off at university in November and was heading home to the GTA along Highway 401 when he had some car trouble.

“I had a flat tire,” Lan told Global News, relaying the story of what happened next.

Lan, fearing for his safety, called 911. He was connected to Ontario Provincial Police and told to stay in his car. He said he was assured a tow truck was on its way.

When a tow truck arrived, the driver said he would take Lan to Mississauga, after suggesting it was possible the vehicle, a 2014 Chrysler Town and Country van, might have suffered some damage and need repairs.

WATCH: Extended video shows confrontations between Global News’ Sean O’Shea, tow truck driver

Click to play video: 'Extended video shows confrontations between Global News’ Sean O’Shea, tow truck driver' Extended video shows confrontations between Global News’ Sean O’Shea, tow truck driver
Extended video shows confrontations between Global News’ Sean O’Shea, tow truck driver – Mar 21, 2018

Lan said he agreed to leave the vehicle at the location, although he saw no damage other than the flat tire.

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In Mississauga, the driver provided Lan a temporary rental vehicle.

Days later, after returning the rental vehicle, and after several inquiries about getting his van back, Lan said he was told by the company that he had a large bill to pay — $12,480.

READ MORE: Towing customers claim Toronto company charging exorbitant fees

“They never told me what they were going to fix or told me what it was going to cost,” Lan said, adamant he never agreed to any repairs.

Lan acknowledges he signed paperwork after he broke down, but said he didn’t realize he’d be put in this position.

In December, Lan said he went to police in an effort to get his car back.

He said he was told by the OPP detachment in Port Credit that it was a “civil matter” and he ought to get a lawyer’s help.

“They said because I allowed the tow company to tow my truck it was my fault,” Lan said.

READ MORE: Police charge tow truck driver following February fatal crash

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Global News began investigating Lan’s predicament in February and urged police to take another look at the case.

‘We have an ongoing investigation with our OPP highway safety division crime unit, they’ve received a complaint,” said Sgt Kerry Schmidt, media spokesperson for the OPP.

Schmidt told Global News investigators are looking at other possible cases involving towing and the company.

“If there are people out there with similar concerns, we want to hear about it,” he said.

Lan received notice in February that if he did not pay the full bill, the company — listed as Lotus Auto Repairs Inc. — would sell his van.

READ MORE: Former Toronto contractor pleads guilty after taking money, not doing work

According to an incorporation record search, Lotus is owned solely by Ahmad Jarrar, and is based at 35 Kingsbridge Garden Circle in Mississauga.

Global News tracked down Jarrar outside the luxury condominium and asked him for comment.

Jarrar, towing another car at the time, sped away without providing information about why his company was still holding the vehicle and where it was located.

Later, at the company’s rented offices at 3239 Wolfdale Road in Mississauga, Jarrar slammed the door on a Global News crew before calling Peel Regional Police.

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READ MORE: ‘It sounded like a shotgun’: Sunroof in Toronto woman’s vehicle explodes

An investigating officer said the department would leave the investigation in the hands of provincial police.

OPP said it isn’t easy to get back someone’s vehicle in circumstances like these.

“If people are being bullied or defrauded in a time of uncertainty at the side of the road they can end up with bills they’ll be obligated to pay,” Schmidt said, repeating that officers would investigate the case to the fullest extent.

Lan, into the fifth month without his vehicle, is frustrated with the process and wants to warn others.

“This is serious, this is not right. I want this guy to stop so no more people get hurt.”

With files from Phil Pang and Tyler Thornley

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