Hanahan man: 'I was taken advantage of twice'

HANAHAN, S.C.{}(WCIV) -- A Hanahan man says burglars took $20,000 worth of valuables out of his home and some confusion led to a $650 bill to get his four-wheeler back.

"I was robbed. My stuff was stolen, and I had to pay to get it back," said Kevin Murphy, who owns Critter Control of Charleston.

Murphy said burglars recently broke into his Hanahan home and stole $20,000 worth of stuff, including a flat screen TV, nearly 20 guns{}and a four-wheeler.{}{}He said he got the four-wheeler back on Thursday but not without paying a price. Charleston{}County deputies eventually recovered the stolen four-wheeler in the Francis Marion National Forest.

It was then placed into storage at J.T. Hookers Towing in Mount Pleasant. When deputies put the four-wheeler into storage, the vehicle's identification number was entered incorrectly, which made realizing it was stolen merchandise harder. It's unclear which agency entered the VIN incorrectly on the paperwork given to the tow company, but Hanahan police and Charleston County deputies are working to sort that out.

A few days later, Murphy said he and a Hanahan detective went to the tow lot to pick up the four-wheeler.

"The tow truck driver showed up and when he did he had a bill for $650.{}{}The detective was floored.{}{}I was floored," said Murphy.{}{}"I felt like I was taken advantage of twice."

Hanahan Police Chief Michael Cochran said he even tried to help by negotiating with the towing company.

"I spoke to the representative with the tow company and I was like, 'Is there anything that can be done?' And basically he said no,'' said Cochran.{}{}"They didn't want to do anything."

That's when ABC News 4 called the owner of J.T. Hookers Towing to get their side of story.{}{}The owner, Tom Gross, said they are not the bad guy, but merely a third party that has a towing agreement with Charleston County.{}He said it's the county which sets the towing rate, and they're simply providing a service to the county and its residents. Gross said the county's rate is $150 for towing and $25 per day for storage.

"I understand his situation, too. That's how he makes a living, but I still don't feel like I was done right on it," said Murphy.{}

Cochran said Murphy's situation should prompt municipalities to take a closer look at their towing policies so fees are waived when victims are involved.

"That way if you have a legitimate victim, they're not going to be stuck twice," Cochran said.

Gross said he sympathizes with Murphy and eventually slashed his bill by $400. Gross later said that with the correct information on the four-wheeler, Murphy would have only been billed for the initial towing cost, $150, and not the additional storage fees. He added that any time there is a vehicle towed, there is a cost associated - even in the event of a theft or a wreck. Gross says that money keeps his staff working and gas in his tow trucks so they can assist other people who are need of towing services.

"I think it made a big difference of Channel 4 getting involved in this," Murphy said.

Murphy still has not recovered his other stolen property and no arrests have been made in his case.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said he is aware of Murphy's case, and is in talks with the owner. He also said he is reviewing the county's towing policy.

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