Amid rumors and reports of a possible connection between a Lodi towing company and an illegal chop shop, the towing company’s owner says he is a victim, not the perpetrator.

Fred Manwill — who owns Parking Authority Towing — said on Friday he received a call early Sunday morning from someone telling him that a tow truck had been stolen from his company’s yard on North Sacramento Street in Lodi.

“My vehicle was stolen out of my tow yard and used to steal another vehicle,” Manwill said.

Manwill believes his company’s truck had been used to steal another pickup truck that was found partially disassembled on his property, he said.

Although he acknowledged the controversial nature of his work, Manwill does not believe the thefts are connected to his contracts to tow cars from clients such as the Lodi post office — which he said has been cracking down on parking violations — along with Bank of America and other Lodi businesses.

After receiving complaints last month about an increase in the numbers of cars being towed after hours and on weekends, Manwill said he has since met with Bank of America and that such tows have become less frequent.

“We take illegally parked vehicles, we do it the right way,” Manwill said. “Even though it’s a crummy job, it’s what we do.”

Lodi Police Lt. Fernando Martinez on Friday said that although Lodi police responded to the initial call, the investigation was turned over to the Delta Regional Auto Theft Team, a countywide task force led by the California Highway Patrol, Stockton Office.

Stockton CHP Officer Charlie Katzakian confirmed that Delta RATT has taken over the ongoing investigation, and that Manwill has cooperated fully.

“I want whoever’s responsible to go to jail,” Manwill said. “I’m offering a $500 reward.”

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