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City of Ceres allows rotation tow operators to charge more
Tow operators called by Ceres police and fire may now charge more for their services following a rate increase approved by the Ceres City Council last week. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The cost of city-ordered tow services will be increasing after last week's City Council action.

The fees to increase involve the towing and impound of vehicles ordered by police. Ceres Police call upon five local tow operators on a rotating basis to clear cars involved in accidents or impounded when the drivers violate sections of the vehicle code. The companies may only charge what fees the city sets. Operators asked for the fees - last increased in 2013 - to be increased because of the rise in fuel and overhead costs.

The new fee increases the maximum tow cost from $190 to $220, and storage fee per day from $45 to $60. The after-hour gate fee remains at $95.

By contrast, the California Highway Patrol, Hughson Police and Sheriff's Department allow operators to charge $220 for tows, $65 per day for storage and a $110 after-hours gate fee.

"Ceres has been behind the times for quite a few years now," commented Duane Thompson of Anderson's Tow.

Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith said the new fees are in line with the tow fees approved by Modesto Police and the local CHP offices.

Police routinely impound vehicles for a variety of reasons, including during arrest for crimes or during traffic stops in which the driver is proven to be unlicensed or driving on a suspended license. Cars may also be towed if they have had expired registration for 12 months or longer.

"We don't tow all these vehicles like we used to anymore," said Chief Smith.

On top of what the tow companies charge, Ceres Police also charge a $170 fee for the release of vehicles, said Smith.

Thompson said that many of the cars they tow for Ceres Police are never picked up and are either sold to the public as a lien sale or sold to auto dismantlers for parts. Insurance companies often deal with the costs but, as Thompson said, "You'd be amazed how many people don't have insurance."