Parking is going to be an issue after last week and as we get closer to Christmas. Thanksgiving night, some Rincon shoppers found out the hard way.
They got towed.
No matter how packed a parking lot is shoppers need to be careful. Private property is just that: private. A few people at the Rincon Walmart assumed a grassy area was store property, other people parked there so they did too.
When they came back, their cars and trucks were gone.
"At first I thought it was stolen. Then we saw a wrecker truck towing another car," Becky Patrick told WTOC.
Thanksgiving night, Patrick says finding a parking spot at the Rincon Walmart was no fun.
"This whole place was packed. People parked at KFC, Taco Bell, the bank. There was no place to park so we parked here on the grass and other people were parked there too," Patrick said. "We really thought that was probably the Walmart grass where we were parked anyway."
The Patrick's say they looked for signs at a neighboring car wash to the Walmart parking lot, but didn't see anything about being private property or warnings of being towed.
WTOC didn't find any warnings either.
"There was a sign on his door of Rincon Car Wash. It said closed Thursday and Friday and reopening Saturday at 8 a.m.," she said.
However, they were towed.
"When we were here earlier, this whole place was full of cars. To me, the thing to do was go inside Walmart and make an announcement to move your cars," Patrick said.
"The car wash does not close. It is open 365 days a year. What was closed was the store and the laser wash," Robert Medrano, owner of Rincon Car Wash, said.
Medrano says he did make an announcement inside Walmart.
"We towed a total of three cars actually. One blocking the car wash bay and two on top of the grass and the plants," Medrano said, which was his property.
"If you park on top of the plants, I think that is not right to do. There are small trees over there," he said.
The Patrick's were one of them. They call it bad business. Medrano says he was in business.
"I apologize. This is private property. I have a business to run. I made an announcement. I do what I have to do," Medrano said. "Unfortunately, you can't please everybody."
"I really do think it is bad business. It is Thanksgiving. People are shopping," Patrick said. "The money I saved in Walmart I just used to get my car back."
The Patrick's still aren't happy and are convinced proper signage warning of potential towing should have been in place. The towing company, Smithey's, says only three cars were actually towed and in the future, sign or no sign, people need to be careful where you park.
It's a frustrating situation, but in this case both the Patrick's and Medrano may be right.
We did some checking and in Georgia, the owner of a private property does have the right to tow your car BUT they must have a visible notice telling you where you can recover your vehicle and how much it will cost. Towing companies must have a permit from the Department of Public Safety and if you do have a complaint about a tow you have to either resolve it with the towing company or the DPS.