Like vultures swooping in for a gourmet meal, according to witnesses, tow trucks were lined up to start hauling cars at midnight on Black Friday.

So were taxicabs, apparently in cahoots with the towing companies to conveniently be available to offer the hapless victims a ride home.

After midnight.

Car after car was towed from outparcel restaurant parking lots as the Sawgrass Mall lots were already packed.

Not that the restaurants complained about unauthorized parking.  They were closed.

When the hapless victims of these predators discovered the reality of why their cars were missing, they were insulted with not only a large cab fare, but a demand for cash payment in order to retrieve their rightful property.

It’s nothing but thievery at the basest level.

Back in the late 19th century the penalty for a horse thief was either to be shot or hanged on the spot.

But this is the 21st century.

So we can’t do that, although I’m willing to bet that most of the Black Friday victims would go for the 19th century form of punishment.

The Sunrise Commission did the next best thing, though.

It’s now illegal for towing companies to operate in the city unless a valid contract is held with the property owner.

The contract must clearly state the hours that towing is authorized, and the towing company must accept checks and make change for cash payments.

The tow driver must also release a car immediately if the owner shows before the hookup is complete.

Whether a fine is included in the ordinance wasn’t published on the agenda.

The city needs to include a stiff fine for thieves like this.

Say $2,000 for every vehicle illegally towed along with $200 for every tow truck driver who can’t show a valid copy of the applicable towing contract if challenged.

Too bad we can’t treat them like horse thieves…

Suggestions, anyone?