UPDATE: According to Jeff Lamm, Public Information Officer for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, residents of Seaside Heights will be able to retrieve their towed vehicles or remove personal items from inside those vehicles at the APK Auto Repair and Impound Towing lots on Monday, Nov. 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. DCA investigators will be on hand at the site to assist vehicle owners.
Seaside Heights residents can reclaim their cars and boats from a Toms River company that towed vehicles from the barrier island community following Hurricane Sandy.
The registered owners of the vehicles and watercraft can reclaim the items between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, and at additional times to be determined next week, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced Tuesday.
APK Towing of Toms River has been accused of taking cars from private property in Seaside Heights, as well as price gouging. The company's Route 37 and Coolidge Avenue location was surrounded by crime scene tape and under police guard last week.
The state has brokered an agreement that "ensures Seaside Heights residents will not have to await the resolution of ongoing investigations into the legality of the towing company’s activities, before claiming their vehicles," Chiesa said.
The agreement was signed by Eric T. Kanefsky, acting director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs, and Matthew Zucaro, president of APK Auto Repair Corporation, doing business as APK Auto Repair and Towing.
Under its terms, APK will release and return, without cost to the registered owners, all vehicles and watercraft that APK removed from Seaside Heights between 12 p.m. on Oct. 27 and 12 a.m. on Nov. 9.
The vehicles include those transported from Seaside Heights to APK’s storage facilities by a third party.
In order to claim their vehicles or watercraft, the registered owners should:
- View the list of vehicles and watercraft, available at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/APK.pdf to determine whether your item is included on the list; and learn whether it is being held at the “Bamber Lot,” “Coolidge Avenue Lot,” or “Impound Inventory” lot. (Note that some vehicles on the "Impound Inventory" list may have been towed prior to the storm. Those vehicles are not included in this agreement).
- If you are unable to access the list online, or if you have additional questions, call the Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846. An investigator will respond to you.
- Visit the lot at which your vehicle is located. You will be able to work on-site with a Division of Consumer Affairs investigator at each of the three lots, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday, November 21, and between the same hours on Friday, November 23. The Division of Consumer Affairs will set additional hours for the following week, and will post the hours at www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov.
- The “Bamber Lot” is located at 2630 Lacey Road / County Road 614, Forked River. The “Coolidge Avenue Lot” is located at 2032 Route 37 East (at the corner of Route 37 and Coolidge Avenue), Toms River. The “Impound Inventory” lot is located at the corner of Bay Boulevard / County Road 629 and Sumner Avenue, Seaside Heights.
“We have brokered an agreement that ensures Seaside Heights residents will not have to await the resolution of ongoing investigations into the legality of the towing company’s activities, before claiming their vehicles. Just as important, it also ensures those residents will not have to pay the towing bills,” Chiesa said.
The agreement signed by the Division of Consumer Affairs and APK does not preclude further investigation by law enforcement. APK admits no wrongdoing in the agreement.
Consumers who suspect price gouging or any other violation of consumer protection laws, particularly as a result of Hurricane Sandy, are urged to call the Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846.