PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s an accident on the North Side.

One car rear-ends another and within minutes, no less than five tow trucks arrive on the scene — eager to get the tow.

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KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: Who’s towing the car?
Tower: What?
Sheehan: Who’s towing?

They’re called chasers — tow truck drivers who listen to scanners.

“Here’s how we do it on the North side,” says one tow truck driver in a YouTube video.

And they rush to the scene of an accident — some without regard for speed limits or stops sign, like the driver in the YouTube video. And when questioned, most of them are camera shy about their work.

Sheehan: How did you get here?
Tower: Why are you here?
Sheehan: I’m interested in the tow truck drivers.
Tower: Yeah, we’re not interested in talking to you.

But over the past two months we’ve talked to more than a dozen accident victims who say they’ve been further victimized by chasers. Some had their cars towed to unknown locations and later slapped with huge bills.

“A total of one $1,260. Literally highway robbery,” said one victim.

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“I’m very upset,” said another victim. “I had to borrow the money off my sister, I had to borrow a couple of dollars off of somebody else.”

“I feel like my car is being held hostage,” said one woman. “I feel like I’m taken advantage of. Already stressed, my blood pressure’s up I know.”

Since our reports, this state legislator has been inundated with calls from the public.

“Because of your reporting, it’s amazing how many phone calls,” said Rep. Dom Costa. “I can rate this issue as one of the top issues I’ve received phone calls from.”

Now Costa will soon be introducing a bill aimed at reining the chasers by allowing municipalities to put a small number of legitimate towing companies under contract — and make them the designated towers, eliminated the need for chasing.

“So that they know who’s towing, they know that they’re insured,” said Costa. “They know that they have comprehensive collision and things like that. They know that the truck that they’re using to tow is a legitimate tow truck.”

Costa’s bill would also make the police officer in charge of the scene. Tow truck drivers would not be allowed to speak with the accident victim and the car would not be towed until the police officer gives the OK, which is what happened here on the North Side.

As with any business, there are good tow truck drivers and there are bad ones. Costa’s bill aims to end chasing all together.

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