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South Carolina ‘repo man’ murder puts tow truck drivers on edge: ‘violence is on the upswing’

Beloved South Carolina tow truck driver was allegedly murdered by a pair of siblings as he tried to repossess a car, highlighting an uptick in violence in the industry.

A string of brutal tow truck driver murders in recent months has industry figures concerned about a rise in violence amid a national car repossession surge.

Steven Hughes Jr., 46, was repossessing a vehicle in Lexington County near Columbia, South Carolina, on June 12 when he was confronted by Raheem Jackson, 20, officials said.

Police were later called to the scene and found his tow truck lights flashing and the driver’s side door open and bullet-riddled.


Hughes was discovered inside the truck with five gunshot wounds and taken to a hospital before being pronounced dead, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Office.

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Jackson and his sister, Essence Jackson, 19, were later arrested and charged with his murder. They did not own the car.

Hughes was a doting father who “always had a repo story on standby, and loved sharing his experiences as a tow truck driver,” his obituary says.

Roughly one month prior to Hughes’ killing, tow company operator Greg Hostetler, 48, was shot dead at his place of business in Macon, Georgia, over a payment dispute, according to investigators.

Tiimon Perry, 25, police said, began arguing with Hostetler over a $50 debt, and a verbal dispute turned violent.

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At some point, Perry pulled a gun and allegedly shot Hostetler in the head, killing him.

In February, a man who had just retrieved his towed vehicle from a New Jersey impound lot after an argument later doubled back to the business and allegedly shot a staffer dead, according to police.

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Roughly a dozen tow truck drivers have been killed and many more injured during confrontations across the nation, according to reports.

A Kentucky tow truck driver managed to survive after allegedly being stabbed and shot by a 58-year-old homeless man, Samad Green, while trying to tow a Ford Focus in March.

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Driver Larry Durhan told detectives he offered Green a chance to get his belongings from the car when Green allegedly whipped out a steak knife and stabbed him in the hand, then shot him, according to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“He cut me!” Durhan can be heard screaming on a 911 call, Local12 reported. “He’s shooting at me.”

Police arrived at the scene and took Green into custody.

Upswings in repo-related mayhem, industry experts assert, could soon spiral out of control given a marked rise in car confiscations in recent years.

According to Cox Automotive, 1.5 million vehicles were taken from their owners due to delinquent payments in 2023, up from 1.2 million in 2022.

Figures for the first quarter of 2024 indicate that the trend is only going to worsen. 

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A rise in interest rates and mounting layoffs across an array of industries has pushed 30-day auto loan delinquencies to 9% and 90-day delinquencies to nearly 3%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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While a boon for the auto towing industry, operators worry about the risks associated with repossessions – especially given the surge in violent clashes between drivers and owners.

Some tow truck company operators said it’s become increasingly difficult to find workers willing to tackle the potentially deadly risks.

Anna Wingard, president of the Towing and Recovery Association of South Carolina, who also owns Wingard Towing, told Fox News Digital she struggles to hire and retain workers.

“Violence is on the upswing against tow truck drivers,” she said. “The economy is difficult right now. People are choosing whether they’re going to pay for their groceries to feed their family or their car payment and that’s a stressful situation to be in.”

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Wingard’s company doesn’t do repossessions due to the heightened risks to drivers and the challenge of obtaining costly insurance. The vice president of the organization stopped doing repossessions after an irate driver ran over his hand.

All towing work is treacherous, Wingard added. Workers in the towing industry are 15 times more likely to die than employees in all other private industries combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“In every arena of towing any which way you look at it, it’s very dangerous,” Wingard said. 

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