You can sign up on this website with your email address and license plate number. If your car is involuntarily towed by the City of Boston, then the system will email you.
The alert system will work for any vehicle towed from City of Boston property. This includes cars towed for street cleaning, unpaid tickets, snow emergencies, as abandoned, and by Boston Police Department directive. It also covers cars towed from private property, such as the parking lot of your favorite donut shop.
Not covered by this system are cars towed by the Massachusetts State Police. For example, vehicles towed from the Jamaicaway and Storrow Drive are under jurisdiction of the State Police, and the City of Boston does not have access to this data.
Alerts are intended to provide timely notification of the tow. Once alerted, drivers will be in a position to resolve the situation by retrieving their vehicles quickly and avoiding the accumulation of storage charges.
Typically 15 to 75 minutes after a car is towed. In some cases alerts may be sent up to two hours after a tow. Notifications are based on information entered into the Boston Police Department towing database. Cars towed to the Boston Transportation Department's Frontage Road tow lot have their information entered into the database as they arrive at the lot. However, when a car is towed to a private tow lot (such as for street sweeping), it is the responsibility of the tow operator to inform the BPD, and this extra step may delay the process of entering the information into the database.
Users are limited to ten plate numbers per email address. If you own a fleet and have a legitimate business need for alerts for more than ten license plates, then please describe your case to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find a way to accomodate you.
You can unsubscribe from the subscribe webpage, by toggling the 'add/delete' option.
To obtain a list of license-plates your email address is already receiving alerts for, submit your email address on the remind-me page [link].
If you subscribe using the "HTML Email" form, then towing alerts will contain full details. If you subscribe using the "TXT" form, then because of TXT message length restrictions, your towing alerts will only contain a link which you can follow to get full details.
There is no charge from the City. However, your cell phone company may bill you for TXT messages you receive - it depends on your cell phone plan.
The towing of a vehicle is already considered public information and, today, anyone can contact the BPD with a license plate number and inquire if it has been towed.
It is important to note, however, that, although towing alerts are intended as a service to vehicle owners, the City of Boston is not in a position to prohibit others from utilizing the system as well. In particular, those who are in the business of repossessing vehicles may apply for towing alerts. This may result in a vehicle being repossessed directly at the Tow Lot prior to the registered owner having an opportunity to reclaim the vehicle, thereby adversely impacting the driver who may be experiencing financial difficulties.
In rare cases constituents may receive alerts when their car was not towed. Three posibilities are: 1) a typo was made in reading or entering the license plate number, in which case the make/model of the towing record will not match your vehicle. If 2) you moved your vehicle at the last minute from a street scheduled for street sweeping, then you may have been successful in escaping the tow by removing your vehicle after it was telephoned in by the towing company, but before they could hook up a winch to your car. In either of these cases, you can safely ignore the alert, or you can optionally call the towing line to report the error in the database. If 3) you received an alert for a license plate which you held in the past, but was reissued by the registry to another person's vehicle, then please click the unsubscribe link in the alert you received, and you will never receive future communication related to that plate.