Former location of PPCI, abandoned since the incident.
The towing business isn't for the faint-hearted; no one knew that better than Donald Montanez, owner of Private Property Commercial Impound (PPCI) in Tampa, Florida. The company didn't do the roadside tows of broken vehicles for which the car-owners were grateful. PPCI towed cars parked on private property without permission -- and those car-owners were inevitably angry at the tow company. PPCI contracted with local business and property owners to allow them to tow cars improperly parked on their land. In practice, PPCI would then scour the areas looking for cars parked in questionable spots and then tow. According to Hillsborough County rules, PPCI could charge people $150 for the tow, plus more in administration and mileage fees, in order to release the car back to the owner. Generally, it's a cash business.
In the wee hours of January 8, 2006 that vocation brought Montanez and his employees to the Tampa industrial area that housed the Sugar Shack, an after-hours club that opened around 3 a.m. Donald Montanez dressed in dark colors, wore a bulletproof vest with a compartment for handcuffs, and draped his gun license around his neck like a badge. He kept a .40 caliber Sig-Sauer handgun in his holster, just in case. That night, the PPCI team included two tow truck drivers, two flatbed drivers and an administrator.
PPCI's practice when towing from the Sugar Shack was to tow cars from in front of the industrial businesses on Bonacker Drive behind the nightclub, where security sent cars when the parking lot was full. A PPCI driver would tow a car a few blocks away to the "drop site" on Bonacker Drive and East Hanna Avenue, a staging area where the cars would be temporarily stored before being transported to the PPCI impound lot roughly nine miles away. At the "drop site", a PPCI administrator would note the license plate and VIN numbers of the towed cars and report them to the Sheriff's office as was required by law. Using this "drop site" as a staging area instead of bringing towed cars all the way to the lot each time, PPCI could tow more cars quickly. On the night of January 8, 2006, PPCI had towed nine cars in about an hour.