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The end of Lincoln Towing? Hated Chicago company rebrands during license fight

A man swings a plastic bag over his shoulder while walking past Lincoln Towing Service on North Clark in Chicago. | Sun-Times file photo

Lincoln Towing, the company many Chicago parkers love to hate, is putting a new face forward to the public as it fights to keep its license to operate.

Over the weekend, a “Protective Parking Service” sign replaced the “Lincoln Towing Service” sign on the company’s headquarters at 4882 N. Clark St., said Basil Diab, a North Side accountant who sent a petition to City Council that garnered 3,000 signatures seeking to shut down Lincoln Towing.

The Lincoln Towing sign was removed from the company’s headquarters and replaced with a new sign. | Provided/Pete Gaines
The Lincoln Towing sign was removed from the company’s headquarters and replaced with a new sign. | Provided/Pete Gaines

Allen Perl, an attorney representing the company, said “Protective Parking Service” has actually been the official corporate name for the company for 25 years.

That name will be harder to parody than Lincoln Towing, which was made famous (or infamous) in the song, “Lincoln Park Pirates,” by folk singer Steve Goodman.

“There’s no car too heavy and no one can make us shut down,” Goodman sang in the 1972 song.

Lincoln Towing had a status hearing in Cook County Circuit Court Monday in its battle with the Illinois Commerce Commission to determine whether the decades-old company can continue to tow cars in Chicago. Judge Neil Cohen continued the case but took no action.

“I find it interesting that after carrying that name for 50 years it just happened to coincide with their hearing date on Monday,” Diab said.

An investigation that began in 2016 resulted in the ICC revoking Lincoln Towing’s license. The commission alleged the company made 462 unauthorized tows and said there was 369 instances of the company using an unlicensed operator in an eight-month span in 2015-2016.

“Lincoln’s pattern and practice of conducting unauthorized relocations harms the public and demonstrates that Lincoln is incompetent and unworthy to hold a relocator’s license,” the commission staff concluded.

The company appealed the decision and sued ICC in court, arguing that the revocation of its license is “unenforceable” and spells an “imminent and dangerous” disruption to business and will cause harm to the public.

Lincoln Towing was given permission to continue operating while the case made its way through court.

ICC spokeswoman Victoria Crawford said Monday the judge in the case could decide soon on whether the company’s lawsuit will proceed, or if it will get thrown out and the company will have to cease operations, as the state has requested.

“We don’t know for sure, but we anticipate the judge will rule on our motion to dismiss sometime later this month or in June,” she said.