(The Center Square) – The Washington state attorney general’s office is celebrating a bit of justice for a former sailor whose automobile was sold while serving overseas.
According to Attorney General’s Office, Bethel Garage in Port Orchard, Washington legally towed the Sailor’s car in December 2018 when it was deployed outside of Washington state. The towing company did not verify whether the owner of the car was a member of the service and then auctioned the car off without the sailor’s knowledge.
“The law is clear – towing companies have an obligation to determine if a car belongs to a member of the military,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Monday, announcing a court order requiring Bethel Garage to reimburse a former Navy sailor for illegally selling his car. , according to a Press release. “When our military men and women are deployed far from home and their families, they shouldn’t have to worry about whether their belongings are safe. There are specific laws that protect our military and I will enforce them. “
Bethel Garage was ordered by Kitsap County Superior Court to return the money from the sale of the car to the sailor, along with an additional $ 2,000 to compensate him for a year spent without a vehicle.
The towing company complied with the order and updated its policies to screen military vehicles before they put them up for sale.
The court order was part of Ferguson’s “Military and Veterans Initiative”, which this year sent a letter to all state-licensed tow truck operators reminding them of their legal obligation to serve members.
“Unfortunately, some tow truck operators are not complying with the law,” the letter said. “My goal is not to file a complaint. My goal is to ensure that the rights of the military are protected; a goal that you certainly share.
The case follows a court ruling in May 2020 by a Pierce County judge who found that a Tacoma-based towing company also illegally sold service members’ vehicles at auction. This case was based on evidence from the Attorney General’s office that Burns Towing illegally sold up to 35 military vehicles while on active duty.