Skip to main content
Press Release

Justice Department Resolves Suit Against Virginia Beach Towing Company for Illegally Auctioning Off Servicemembers’ Vehicles

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department has entered into a consent order requiring Steve’s Towing Inc. in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to pay $90,000 to settle a complaint alleging that the company violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The complaint, which was filed on April 15, 2022, alleges that Steve’s Towing failed to obtain court orders before auctioning off vehicles belonging to at least seven SCRA-protected servicemembers, including two vehicles belonging to a member of a Navy SEAL team who was deployed overseas. The complaint further alleges that the company engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the SCRA and had no policies, practices, or procedures in place to ensure SCRA compliance. Under the SCRA, a towing company must determine whether a vehicle in its possession belongs to a servicemember; if so, the towing company must obtain a court order prior to selling the vehicle.

“This case began with a member of a Navy SEAL team who returned home from an overseas deployment, only to find that a towing company had auctioned off two vehicles that he had parked at a military base,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This resolution will compensate all of the servicemembers whose vehicles were illegally taken from them while they were serving their country.”

“Servicemembers often rely heavily on their personal vehicles to commute to work and care for their families. A servicemember’s loss of a vehicle, therefore, can affect the military’s readiness,” said U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Aber for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA is dedicated to holding accountable businesses who do not uphold the right of servicemembers under the SCRA.”

The department launched its investigation after a Navy legal assistance attorney reported that Steve’s Towing Inc. had sold two vehicles belonging to a deployed Navy SEAL without first obtaining court orders. One of the vehicles was a unique Toyota Land Cruiser. Stored inside the SEAL Team member’s Land Cruiser was evidence of his military service in the form of a duffel bag of military uniforms and a Naval Special Warfare Development Group Sniper challenge coin.

Under the proposed consent order, which still must be approved by the court, Steve’s Towing will pay $67,500 to the seven SCRA-protected servicemembers referenced in the United States’ complaint, up to $12,500 to compensate additional SCRA-protected servicemembers whose vehicles Steve’s Towing may have sold without first obtaining court orders and a $10,000 civil penalty. Steve’s Towing will also be required to provide SCRA training to its employees and to develop new policies and procedures consistent with the SCRA.

Servicemembers and their dependents who believe their SCRA rights have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program Office. Office locations may be found at The department’s enforcement of the SCRA is conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, together with U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country. Since 2011, the department has obtained over $481 million in monetary relief for over 147,000 servicemembers through its enforcement of the SCRA.  Additional information on the Justice Department’s enforcement of the SCRA and other laws protecting servicemembers is available at

Updated April 7, 2023

Servicemembers Initiative
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-384