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This is a truly nightmarish scenario. Imagine you’re driving through the financial district of downtown San Francisco when a tow truck pulls in front of your bumper at a red light. You assume the driver is making a right turn until he backs up and tries to clamp on to your tires. This bizarre nightmare came true for Joanne.

Joanne and Harry are East Bay residents who chose to only reveal their first names. Joanne told ABC that she and her husband were running errands across the bridge when the tow truck tried to pick up her car.

At first, she was sure there was some mistake. They rolled down their windows to yell at the driver. But he ignored them.

When the truck failed to latch on to their 2017 Corolla, the yellow truck backed up and tried again. Worst of all, Harry was trapped. A black Honda was waiting behind him and a Waymo automated taxi was boxing him in.

San Francisco skyline
San Francisco | Lili Popper via Unsplash

The third time the tow truck tried to back up to the sedan, pedestrians began to shout at the truck driver. Finally, the light turned green and the Waymo drove away. At that point the black Honda had enough space to get out of the way and Harry could back up to escape. With an empty right lane, he drove around the tow truck and took off.

The saga doesn’t end there. The diesel truck floored it and chased them for several blocks before the couple finally lost him.

So what in the world was going on here? Well sometimes towing companies are hired to repossess a car if the owner isn’t making payments to the bank. But these towing companies do their best to avoid confontations. They might tow away a car parked in front of a home or a workplace, timing their activity to avoid the car owner seeing them.

I have honestly never heard of a repo company towing a car with the drivers in it. What would they even do with the drivers when they got the car back to the bank? Besides, Joanne says she makes all her car payments on time and has never had a problem. The truck driver may have hoped that if he picked the car up, the drivers would voluntarily get out so he could legally tow it. But that still doesn’t explain his motive.

Here’s where it gets even weirder. The tow truck company’s name was on the side of the truck: “Specialty Towing.” But the company has declined to comment. The issue could have been a rogue driver. But the plot thickens: the city has charged at least one “Specialty Towing” with unscrupulous practices and fraud. That company is prohibited from city towing contracts. Do not that there are multiple companies with that name in the greater Bay Area.

If you have a theory what was going on, click on the Twitter link to comment:

Some journalists have called it an attempted “kidnapping.” And I agree: the truck driver was quickly made aware he was trying to scoop a car with people on board, and even chased them. The San Francisco Police Department said, “No injuries were reported, and no arrest has been made at this time…This incident is an open and active investigation.”

I genuinely have no clue what the motive was. I do know that it is completely possible the truck could have towed the car if it could have latched on to its front wheels. The truck was engineered to be able to lift a car without the truck driver getting out, for repo situations. And even if the owner of the FWD Corolla stamped the brakes or gunned the engine, he would have been helpless.

Next, read about when a manual transmission proved an effective anti-theft device, or see footage of this attempted kidnapping in the video below:

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