Tables turned on towing company

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Breakthrough Towing is ruthless when it comes to money.  Now they've run into a couple of ladies who are just as determined to get some justice.

Mike Dickerson is the owner.

“Mr. Mike Dickerson, you are a slug," said Marilyn.

Marilyn is a nice lady from Canada who has a judgment against Breakthrough Towing.  Carla is Marilyn’s daughter and she also has a civil judgment against Breakthrough Towing. 

Wolchek: “Have they made any attempt to pay you back?”

“Of course not," Carla said.

So how did these two nice ladies end up so mad?

It started on a hot day last summer.  Marilyn drove in from Windsor where she lives to meet her daughter Carla, who lives in Oakland County for a fun day in mid-town Detroit.

"So we stopped at the McDonald’s," Carla said. "That day it was sweltering.”

It was the McDonald’s on Woodward and Canfield - which is serviced by Breakthrough Towing.

The ladies say they ordered and paid but didn’t stay in the McDonald’s for more than five minutes because it was stifling hot in the restaurant.

“I said to Carla I can't stay in here," Marilyn said. "I’m diabetic, and I'm going to be 75 years old. I said 'Let's see if we can find some place that has some air conditioning.'”

So the ladies walked to a nearby building to cool off - big mistake.  They came back and saw both of their cars being hooked by Breakthrough Towing.

Rob: “You told him 'we're customers here's our receipt?”

“Yes,” Carla said.

Rob: “And he didn't care?”

“That didn't matter. That didn't matter,” she said.


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"She had the receipt with her and she said can you please take the car down and we found out in court later that legally they are supposed to take your car down if you come out and they're in the process of towing it," Marilyn said. "That didn't happen."

The ladies say they weren’t gone for more than a few minutes - certainly under the 30-minute time limit at the restaurant.

So how’d the tow company get there so fast? A couple of months ago I told you how Breakthrough Towing used people to sit and watch for customers at the lots they service.  The company denied using “spotters” and the alleged spotters themselves denied being spotters.

But I caught them day after day sitting in their cars, watching the lots and even photographing plates of vehicles of anyone daring to step foot out of the lot.

I also showed you video of Breakthrough Towing trucks strategically positioned surrounding their lot, trucks that would show up within minutes of being alerted.

I showed you lots and lots of people being towed, some who caught the tow drivers in the act of hooking their vehicles but not releasing them.

Instead, all of these people had to pay $395 in cash to get their vehicles back.  And remember, their vehicles were being held hostage. Breakthrough demanded full payment in cash before anyone could get their vehicles back.

For Carla and Marilyn who had two separate cars, the punishment was twice as bad.

Rob: “Now you find out you've got to pay how much money?”

“$420 per car,” Carla said.

Rob: "So that's $840.”

“$840 dollars," Carla said, in cash.

Carla soon found out her ATM machine had a $500 daily limit. So they had to have a friend pick them up. Bring them money and take them to southwest Detroit to the Breakthrough Office.

A mother and daughter day of fun had turned into a mother and daughter day of hell. 

So, they decided to fight back.

“I saved the cup.”

Yep.  Marilyn saved the cup she had in her hand as the tow guys took their cars.  And she has more proof they were customers.

“Here are the receipts," she said.

Rob: “So you saved all this.  You said I’m going to court.”


They both filed small claims cases and ...

“We won," said Marilyn.

The judge awarded both Marilyn and Carla the money the tow company took from them and court costs.  But the company has never paid them a dime.

Even though no one from the company showed up in court, they did file a motion to set aside the default judgment against the company.  It was denied.

Now the ladies have filed paperwork to seize property from the towers.  But say they’re having trouble even serving Mike Dickerson and I can see why.  The guy makes himself scarce and the Breakthrough Towing office is like a fortress.

Rob: “Hey Mike.  Open up and talk to me.  How come you demand money from your customers to get their cars back but you won’t pay when a judge orders you to?”

Michael Dickerson never came out of the office to speak with me but I did reach him on the phone.  All he said was to call his lawyer.  So we did.
His attorney is out of town.  We've sent the attorney emails and messages but haven't heard back from him.

On Wednesday, I’ll tell you about an 87-year-old lady who says she had to walk two miles because of she got stranded by this very same towing company.  And all she wanted was a senior citizen cup of coffee.