The California Highway Patrol is alerting motorists to the services the state-funded Freeway Service Patrol program after an individual posing as a program employee in San Joaquin County solicited money from stranded motorists, but left them abandoned on the roadside.
The Freeway Service Patrol is a free service, with all operating costs covered by state and local public funding allocations.
CHP spokesman Officer Adrian Quintero said the patrol, which provides towing services, is designed to reduce traffic congestion on freeways by quickly removing disabled vehicles from the roadway. Patrol tow trucks are clearly marked with signage, and drivers wear Freeway Safety Patrol uniforms and patches.
In San Joaquin County, an individual wearing a blue jacket and a patch on his shirt has approached stranded motorists, saying that he works for a CHP program and offering to help them. He has asked motorists to give him money, telling them he will go purchase the parts needed to repair their vehicle. He has taken the money and not returned.
Quintero said Freeway Service Patrol drivers will never ask for money or credit card information. If a vehicle is out of gas, they may provide up to 2 gallons of gas. If a vehicle is disabled, they will tow it to a predesignated site, typically a nearby gas station or other safe location.
Fourteen programs provide Freeway Service Patrol services in 23 California counties. In the Sacramento area, the services are available in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado and San Joaquin counties.
The patrol typically operates during commute hours, although in heavily congested areas like Los Angeles, Quintero said, the service is available around the clock.
State funding is apportioned to each program through a formula based upon population, miles of freeway in the region and a measurement of congestion.