Charlottesville Couple Frustrated with City After Antique Truck Towed

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Wilile Smith Wilile Smith
Willie's truck Willie's truck

A Charlottesville couple say they are devastated because the city towed heir antique truck. But the city says they violated code, and now the family will have to pay to get it back.

Willie Smith lived in the same house in Charlottesville for 40 years until he became elderly and moved away. He left his treasured truck behind on the property he still owns, but now he's worried he'll never see it again.

“I mean, you feel violated. You feel like … you feel angry,” Debbie Smith said.

City officials towed the Smiths antique white box truck, a truck he used to build his successful cement company.

Smith and his wife tend to the Charlottesville property, but now live a few hours away. In the spring, the city notified the family that the truck had flat tires, which the city "interpreted," as violating Section 5-150 of Charlottesville City Code, prohibiting "open storage of inoperable vehicles.”

“So I pumped the tires up and everything,” Willie Smith said.

When Willie Smith came back months later, he said the truck was gone.“And I thought somebody might have stole it,” Willie Smith said.

So he went to the police department. “Police got no record of it,” Willie Smith said.

Finally, the Smiths found out the city towed it. The city says the tires were deflated when inspectors came back to the home.

“He's been going through so much with the city,” Debbie Smith said.

The Smiths say they wish the city had called them back to say the tires were flat again before towing it. The city says it was just enforcing city code.

“He's been trying so hard to like clean up his yard.  He's been trying to mow his yard and make it look like everybody else's.  People on this street, they're building new houses, you know he's not going to be able to have a new house, he's doing the best he can,” Debbie Smith said.

A city spokeswoman says the Smiths can get their truck back, once they pay the towing fee. The city says they "encourage the Smiths to speak to NDS staff further about their concerns."

The Smiths say they're waiting for a phone call back from the city.

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