Tow Down in J-Town

JANUARY 24, 2007 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- After Tuesday night's rival game between Jonesboro and Forrest City High School, some fans had a surprise waiting outside.

"I came out and my car was gone," says Martell Lacey, a Jonesboro fan whose car was towed.

And he wasn't alone. The majority of the cars that parked at Catfish Cafe were towed.

"I parked on the back side of the business. I did not see a sign and I'm pretty sure there were SUV's and cars parked over it. You couldn't see the sign the way that it's located," says Marilyn Newsone, whose car was also towed.

But there are 2 signs and they say parking for Catfish Cafe customers only. Vickie Kendall did eat at the restaurant, left her car there and went across the street to the game. When she got back, her Nissan Altima was gone and it didn't take her long to figure out, she'd been towed.

"When I told him I ate here, he said oh well, I didn't know that, like too bad," says Vickie Kendall.

Too bad equaled 100 dollars to get her car back. But we talked to the owner of this restaurant and he says the parking problem costs him much more than the price drivers had to pay to get their car back.

"We might as well be closed because they fill our parking lot up and we can't get any customers on it," says Freddie Bass, the Owner of Catfish Café.

Bass said he put signs up six years ago and at most games, pays an employee to tell fans the parking rules.

"That's why I put the signs up hoping that would prevent it, but I've always had problems. Then I have to pay to have people direct traffic and it just gets aggravating. If we were closed, I would not have cared. They could have parked anywhere and I wouldn't have cared. But whenever my customers cannot get on my parking lot, then there is a problem," says Bass.

But for those who got towed, they're angry and say they won't be back to Catfish Café.

"He could've gone across the street to make an announcement that you've got so much time to move your car, they need to be moved and we would've gladly moved it," says Vickie Kendall.

"I just wonder where the kindness is in Jonesboro and I just didn't see it last night," says Marilyn Newsone.

We talked with the Jonesboro Police Department to get the city's take on the matter. Police Chief Michael Yates said the city is not involved with towing vehicles from private property. He said it's a land owner issue as far as the city is concerned.

Link to Jonesboro Traffic and Parking Ordinances: