The morning of the Palatine High School Cross Country Invitational Sherri Adame said that instead of supporting a community event, one local business targeted residents and towed cars.
Adame said she was one of nearly 20 people to get towed from the English Valley Shopping Center in Palatine on Saturday, Sept. 22.
“Really just appalling behavior. Living here, it’s just really disappointing to see a people operate on that level,” she said. “They're just looking forward to a payout. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
The Palatine Police Department said 17 cars were towed from that parking lot at 225 W. Dundee Road Saturday, Sept. 22, the morning of the Palatine Invite. The cross country event was from 9 a.m. until noon. Parking at the Deer Grove East Forest Preserve is limited.
A spectator shuttle bus ran from Palatine High School to the meet the morning of the invite but Adame said she and many other parents new to the team or from visiting schools were not aware of the shuttle buses. Adame’s son, a freshman, is on the Palatine boys’ cross-country team.
“I was gone maybe 10 minutes and my car was gone,” said Adame. “It happened so fast I thought it was stolen.”
Standing in the lot with her 6-year-old daughter, Adame called 911 when a dispatcher informed her the vehicle had been towed, not stolen. It cost her $198.50 to get her vehicle out of the impound lot at Northwest Recovery in Rolling Meadows.
“They were laughing at all of us in there,” Adame said, “They said, ‘Oh yea, we love the Palatine invite. We look forward to this every year.’ ”
Thomas Niemira, Vice President at DiMucci, the company that owns English Valley, the strip mall where the vehicles were towed, declined to answer questions about Adame’s concerns.
“People came in parked and went to the race,” Niemira said, “They did not visit any of our retailers, they were violators and they were trespassers.” Niemira said that would be his only statement.
Adame admitted she saw the warning signs, “Unauthorized vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense,” as she pulled into the parking lot of the English Valley Shopping Center at 225 W. Dundee Road in Palatine. But Adame said she did not plan on parking there, she just needed to get her son his fleece before the race started. “I just thought I’ll run across the street to give him his jacket, then I’ll look for a parking spot,” said Adame, “All I did was run across the street.”
Ten minutes later, Adame said she returned to the lot and her car was gone. “I couldn’t believe it,” Adame said, “It just didn’t make sense, it happened so fast.” Then, Adame said she spotted the "spotter" monitoring the English Valley parking lot.
“I saw there was this guy acting as the lookout so I confronted him,” Adame said. Adame said she was told that the spotter was hired to radio the towing company every time someone parked in the lot and walked across Dundee Road to the cross-country meet in the forest preserve.
Of the 10 store locations at English Valley, two are vacant and at least two others do not open before noon on Saturdays. The Palatine Invite was scheduled from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.
"I can't imagine those cars could have hurt business that day," Adame said all the vehicles parked in the spaces closest to Dundee Road, leaving spaces in front of the businesses open. "If it was a problem they could have just as easily told people to move their cars," Adame said, "Or just charge us, make money that way."
An employee at Northwest Recovery in Rolling Meadows refused to comment. “I actually cannot give out that information,” said the person, who identified themselves as a manager, “I actually cannot comment any more about what happened on Saturday.”