‘What a nightmare’: How Philadelphia police, parking authority, and tow companies lose cars while ‘courtesy’ towing

Turns out McEntee had been “courtesy towed,” a Philly euphemism (origin unknown) used to describe when a vehicle is parked legally, but must be “relocated” (official term) by police, the parking authority or a private tow company to clear the street for an event, repaving or utility work.

It’s an antiquated system that can be comically inefficient, plagued by vague and conflicting policies and shoddy recordkeeping. Or, as a police spokesman recently put it, “logistical hurdles.”

After the unsuccessful search for his Honda, McEntee was forced to file a stolen-vehicle report and an insurance claim. He started thinking about buying a new car.

“I was about to give up,” he said. “Then …”

Before finalizing the insurance claim, McEntee took a bike ride down to Pennsport. And there it was. Under I-95. About a mile away from where he’d parked it.