The New Hanover County’s Sheriff’s Office is responsible for unincorporated areas of the county, outside of municipal city or town limits.
New Hanover County includes four municipalities: the city of Wilmington, the town of Wrightsville Beach, the town of Carolina Beach and the town of Kure Beach. Each municipality has its own police department and its own specific of laws.
According to Kemp Burpeau, New Hanover County’s Deputy County Attorney, tow truck drivers are not obligated to notify the sheriff when towing for illegal parking on private property in the county. The owner of the private property is however free to contact the sheriff. On public property such as the Public Library in downtown Wilmington and the Cape Fear Museum, the sheriff is responsible for initiating the towing and contacting the owner.
The four municipalities have similar regulations. In the case of illegal parking in public areas of any town, the police department is always responsible for contacting the tow truck company. Regulations differ when it comes to private property.
Inspector El Taruas Bluford, code enforcement officer with Wilmington Police, said tow truck drivers do not have to notify the police when towing an illegally parked vehicle when requested by a private property owner. However, by law, when a vehicle is illegally parked in a “no trespassing” zone, the tow truck driver must contact the police.
In Wrightsville Beach, most private businesses and residences have contracts with specific tow truck companies, said Diana Zeunen, assistant to the chief of police of Wrightsville Beach. The drivers therefore do not have to contact the police in case of illegal parking issues.
Carolina Beach has a unique arrangement. When towing from a private property, drivers are not required by law to notify the police. However, according to Lt. Harry Humphries of the Carolina Beach Police Department, tow truck companies have an understanding with the department when towing from private property. In order for tow truck drivers to receive a license to tow, they must agree to notify the town police when towing a vehicle for illegal parking in private areas. They must also leave a notice informing the vehicle owner their vehicle has been towed. This arrangement was adopted because many vehicle owners assumed that their vehicles had been stolen before finding out from the Police Department that they had, in fact, been towed.
The chief of police of Kure Beach, Dennis Cooper, said that, by law, tow truck drivers do not have to notify the police when towing a vehicle from private property. But, it is generally a professional courtesy to do so.
Date posted: February 1, 2013
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