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How some tow truck companies make money by respossessions


You may think that all tow truck drivers make their money by pulling your broken-down vehicle to a repair shop – but some companies pay the bills a different way.

One of those companies is Legendary Towing in Myrtle Beach. Owner Chris Sacawa works with his driver, Scott Mahin, and Mahin’s wife Lindsay repossessing cars.

This is more of an adrenaline rush. We’ve been shot at a few times, but those are the crazy ones.

Scott Mahin, Legendary Towing

Disabled cars and roadside assistance could earn a tow truck driver $50 to $70 per call, said Sacawa.

“That’s guaranteed money everyday,” Sacawa said. “With the repos, it’s totally different. You may go the whole day and not earn a dollar, but the next day you might go out and find five repos.

Repossessions are the majority of Legendary Towing’s business.

“We also supplement it a little with towing,” said Scott Mahin, who calls repossessions “a gamble” with a payday of about $300 per repossession. A good week could see 20 repos, and a slow week could be only five.

These are professional liars, they’re con artists. They’ll use people to get a car.

Chris Sacawa, Legendary Towing

“It’s just something different all the time,” Mahin said. “You can go around and do roadside and change tires, but this is more of an adrenaline rush. We’ve been shot at a few times, but those are the crazy ones.”

Sacawa’s crew finds their targets by looking up the addresses of people whose vehicles are up for repossession. Some of the folks are “good people who didn’t pay their bill,” said Mahin, but others habitually fail to make payments on their cars and move around a lot.

He held the gun up to us saying ‘this is the worst mistake you’re ever going to make.’

Chris Sacawa, Legendary Towing

Some people get their cars repossessed several times a year by making a down payment on a car and refusing to pay it off until the car gets repossessed, said Mahin. Then they’ll go to another dealer and do the same thing.

“These are professional liars, they’re con artists,” Sacawa said. “They’ll use people to get a car.”

Local lenders are the majority of the crew’s repossessions.

You have to play detective to get them.

Scott Mahin, Legendary Towing

“They know that person’s face,” Sacawa said of local lenders and car dealers. “They’ve sat there and talked with them so they can fill you in on all the juicy details. They’ll run their mouths, or family will.”

If a person owes money to a lender said Mahin, there’s a good chance that person owes money to a family member also who will help locate them.

“You have to play detective to get them,” Mahin said.

The crew tries to do most of their runs at night when people are sleeping or when they’re at work to avoid confrontation.

But sometimes confrontation can’t be avoided.

“Me and Chris went to this one in Conway where we hooked a car and were driving out of the yard when [the car owner] shot like six rounds at us,” Mahin said.

“He held the gun up to us saying ‘this is the worst mistake you’re ever going to make,’” Sacawa added

But the crew was off the property, and successfully repossessed the car.

On Friday, Sacawa backed up his tow truck to a white Jeep Grand Cherokee up for repossession. Scott Mahin checked the VIN number to make sure they had the right SUV and and Lindsay Mahin logged the repossession into the company software system.

The lift on the tow truck hugged the Jeep’s rear tires, lifting them off the ground, and the tow truck drove off.

The entire repossession took just 40 seconds.

But there are rules regarding when a car can and can’t be repossessed. The company doesn’t have legal possession of a car until they get it off the owner’s property, and a car can’t be repossessed if someone is inside the car.

One time, said Mahin, a man was living in his car to prevent it from getting repossessed. When he went to get gas, Sacawa and Mahin tried to repossess the car, and the man dove through the window and choked Mahin.

But getting attacked is the exception, not the rule.

“Those are the crazy ones,” said Sacawa. “It’s not like you see on TV.”



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