Tow truck company suspects someone messed with truck's fuel tank

Lots of anger heated up when dropping temperatures and winter gridlock led to towing in Leeds and someone who got a little too hot under the collar may face criminal charges.

It's because venting that anger did thousands of dollars in damage.

Ryan Automotive in Leeds is one of two companies the city had tow cars to make the roads passable.

One week later - the company is now having a fuel sample analyzed - after the owner believes someone put a chemical in the fuel tank.

Ryan Automotive in Leeds towed cars abandoned in the snow, clearing the way to shelters.

Mayor David Miller says "All they were doing is what the city asked them to do and what the city asked them to do was move cars so we could help people."

But many people unhappy with the 175-dollar towing charge made their anger known.

Hunter Ryan says he received many threatening calls -- and believes one person tampered with this tow truck. "I assume and still do that someone poured a chemical into the fuel tank."

Ryan says he believes that happened sometime before the truck, which was running perfectly Wednesday night, went out on a Thursday morning call.

"The truck made it half a mile and I noticed smoke and something on fire in the rear of the truck."

He noticed a chemical splashed around the fuel tank. Ryan says, somebody gained nothing out of this - now the satisfaction of tearing up an engine whatever that's worth."

Ryan will have to pay a high deductible if the engine has to be replaced. He's also lost business this week.

Mayor David Miller says this has gone too far. "It's certainly a crime and may be a felony."

The Leeds City Council has now paved the way to cover the towing cost for those affected. Ryan says the initial charge included many factors, "When it's raining or snowing, it's harder to perform that same task."

Ryan says he's disheartened about the fuel tank - but hopes justice will be served.

Mayor Miller says, "The likelihood is somebody saw it and we hope they'll come forward to give us an opportunity to find out who it was."

The mayor says 37 cars were towed - and some people have already been reimbursed. Another tow truck Manager, Kenny Nock with Hank's Towing, says people may not know the factors contributing to towing fees.

He says companies on a rotation call for city emergencies must be covered under several insurance policies. They can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the number of trucks a company owns.