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Locate your towed car and retrieve it free — except in Amherst

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Lori Overdorf
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Buffalo Toronto Public Media
Mackinaw Street, Buffalo

If your car was towed during the storm, chances are pretty good that you can find its location online and retrieve it for free — unless it was picked up in Amherst.

At the peak of the storm, four area municipalities posted an online inventory of 650 towed vehicles, and where to find them. (You can check for your vehicle online below.)

In most cases, once you locate your vehicle online, you will be allowed to retrieve it from whatever location it was left at. Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Erie County each are allowing people to find their vehicle and recover it free of charge.

Amherst used private towing companies that have been billing some people, upward of $355 for the towing service and storage fees.

"I was stuck in a car make a long story short for about 18 hours ... And we finally shoveled the car out or pulled the car out, maybe five minutes before I got there and they said the tow truck had took it," said Shaquille Jones of Buffalo. "And I go to the tow place, they said that my bill was $360 and they just towed it. It wasn't even 10 minutes."

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Shaquille Jones
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An Amherst towing bill, posted on social media

Without a budget to pay Amherst's towing contractors with town funds, Supervisor Brian Kulpa said the money has to come from somewhere.

"The standard operating procedure for the town of Amherst is if we tow a car out of a public right of way, the person who owns the car is responsible for the towing. So if we don't have the person pay for the towing, I'm not sure who does pay for the towing," Kulpa said.

Jones countered with an argument that is becoming increasingly more common during such a traumatic and deadly blizzard.

"So you have money for plowing, but you don't have money to donate to people who were stuck for 18 hours and almost lost their lives," Jones said.

"I get it that these people have to make money but the state should definitely do something about that for sure."

If your car has been towed The city of Buffalo, Erie County and Cheektowaga are all using online location lists — where you an find your car, and basically go grab it, no charge. Those municipalities are eating the cost by paying the contractors themselves on at least 600 cars.

"You can pick up your vehicle in the lots that are identified (on the online lists). If you come with your key fob or your key you can pick it up as long as it's driveable," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Kulpa argued that approach has it's pitfalls, eliminating paperwork and identification that could be important for insurance claims. The county's towed car list does acknowledge that cars may have dead batteries, no fuel, or damage.

TO SEE IF YOUR VEHICLE IS IN AMHERST, CLICK HERE

Amherst used three tow operators who are charging fees. Once you find your vehicle online, you wil have to work with whatever towing company is listed there to recover your vehicle

  • Becker Towing and recovery, 9180 Transit Rd, East Amherst, NY 14051
  • Dadswell Towing Service, 8940 Main Street Williamsville, 14221
  • United Auto Towing, 3740 Sheridan Drive, Amherst, NY 14226

TO SEE IF YOUR VEHICLE IS IN BUFFALO, CLICK HERE

You may also contact your nearest Buffalo Police District for information on your car.

Towed vehicles in the city were generally not taken to a central impound. The online location list is filled with individual, less-specific drop off points rather than the shopping centers, town parks or other makeshift lots used by Erie County and Cheektowaga contractors.

TO SEE IF YOUR VEHICLE IS IN CHEEKTOWAGA, CLICK HERE
Cheektowaga is storing cars at :

  • The Town Park — either at the Recreation Center / Ice Rink in the “back” of the park, or in the front parking lot near Harlem Rd
  • At the Thruway Plaza, either behind Tops Markets, near Valu City Furniture (on either side of the building) or near Planet Fitness.
  • Lake Effect Plaza on Union Road, near the Red Cross, but possibly anywhere in the lot.
  • Appletree Business Park, on the Union Road side of the complex.
  • Maryvale School in the parking lot nearest the Union Rd entrance.

TO FIND A VEHICLE TOWED AT THE DIRECTION OF ERIE COUNTY, CLICK HERE

Erie County is storing vehicles at

  • ECC North Parking Lots 7, 8, 9 and 10 (6205 Main St. Williamsville, New York 14221)
  • Tops Plaza at Harlem and Walden Ave. (700 Thruway Plaza Dr. Buffalo, New York 14225)
  • Erie County's Tonawanda Maintenance Shop (1870 Military Rd. Buffalo, NY 14217)
  • St. Teresa's Church (5771 Buell St. Akron, NY 14001)
  • Erie County Home (11580 Walden Ave. Alden, NY 14004)
  • Lancaster Police Department (525 Pavement Rd. Lancaster, NY 14086)

    TO FIND A VEHICLE TOWED IN NIAGARA FALLS, call (716) 286-4711.

    Dave Debo's journalism career runs the gamut from public radio to commercial radio, from digital projects to newspapers. With over 30 years of experience, he's produced national television news programs and has worked as both a daily and weekly print journalist and web editor.