Saturday, November 17, 2012

Riker's Ripoff

Terry and I went to the premiere of a brand new venue on International drive. There were valet assistants roadside, but we had been here before and figured, we would find our own parking in back. Terry guided me to a spot right near the entrance. There were no other cars in this area of the parking lot.

The premiere was amazing and we lingered after the show. When we finally left, I got an uneasy feeling as we walked back to the parking lot. The lot was now full of cars that were backed into their spaces. I had parked nose first and my car was gone. I clicked the door remote several times to be sure. "Shit, someone stole my car." What made it worse was that the tablet and projector were worth several thousand dollars combined and they were hidden below the back seats. The walk home might be about five miles.

There was a group of men in the parking lot and we walked over to them. Their car was gone as well. They pointed out a Tow Away Zone sign nailed to a tree. The sign was in a dark corner of the lot and we hadn't seen it. Riker's Roadside Service had their number on the sign and Terry called. She demanded to know what business was responsible for towing the car. She never got a straight answer. We were offered a ride to Riker's by a volunteer from the venue. It was out in the middle of nowhere (1425 Taft Vineland Road). The place was a suburban tract house with cars parked on the front lawn and a large fenced in area in back. A sign on the front door said we had to go to a walk up window on the side of the house. The doorbell was broken and there were no lights on inside. Terry called, 407 855-7776, again, and she was told someone would get to us in half an hour. I started to sketch while Terry sat on the stoop making more calls.

After about forty five minutes Tow Trucks started bringing in more cars. About five vehicles were Towed behind the building and locked behind the fences in short order, and then the trucks roared off to go get more. It would cost $150 to retrieve the stolen vehicle so this place was raking in big bucks. I sighed relief when I found that nothing had been stolen from inside the car. Riker's is an infamous prison right outside Manhattan so the name was appropriate for the lot full of stolen cars surrounded by fencing and razor wire. What is so infuriating is that Terry had looked around for signs when we parked and we didn't see the dark corner in the dark shadow below a tree where the sign was nailed. If the parking lot owner, whoever that might be, wanted to keep people from parking in the lot, he would invest in lights to illuminate the tow away zone signs. Riker's now is on my list of the most despised businesses in Orlando. Trespass towing seems to be a lucrative business and there are a small army of trucks on the prowl. Drivers ethics must wear down fast because a sign on the front door said, "Drivers wanted". Should I ever need roadside service, I'll be calling AAA not Riker's.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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