Repossessing vehicles may be getting riskier

Agents stay busy in sour economy

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Recovery agent Ben Newsome said his job has become more dangerous since Operation Repo hit truTV.

Mickey Koelling says car repossession agents must follow the rules, but they often meet with threats or actual violence. He says he was hit in the head with a chain during one encounter.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Mickey Koelling says car repossession agents must follow the rules, but they often meet with threats or actual violence. He says he was hit in the head with a chain during one encounter.

"It's awful," he said of the show. "It's going to get somebody killed. It didn't get me killed, but it got me 15 stitches in the head."

The show follows a group of repo men who kick, push, scream, fight and pepper-spray people when retrieving their vehicles.

The show has taught car owners to expect violence.

At the request of the lien holder, Mickey Koelling, of Professional Auto Recovery in Augusta, was sent to Columbia to discuss payment arrangements with a debtor. But she refused to open the door for fear she would be thrown to the ground and pepper-sprayed.

On another job, a group of young men told Koelling they had seen the show and were prepared to fight for their vehicle.

But the truth is, repossession isn't like that. Recovery agents, just like everyone else, must obey laws.

Koelling said people resist all the time but agents don't respond with force.

For example, he said, several repo companies have attempted to repossess a North Carolina man's Mercedes. But when he's sleeping in it with a shotgun, there isn't much anyone can do.

Newsome, of American Recovery, said he has seen snakes and dogs left in cars as deterrents.

That's considered mild.

Every repo man has tales about really dangerous jobs.

Scouting for a car on Bolt Avenue in June, Newsome's personal vehicle was shot 17 times -- shattering back and front windows, flattening three tires and damaging his tool box.

The recovery agent said investigators believe the shooting occurred because he was in someone else's territory.

"Technically I could have repoed the car while I was there. I had the key, but I probably would have been dead," Newsome said.

As for the 15 stitches, they were required after he was struck on the head with a bottle.

Koelling, who has repossessed vehicles in several states, said he got his first piercing when he was hit with a 2-by-4 and a 16-penny nail went through his tongue.

Another time, he was hit in the head with a chain.

In August, a woman backed into him while attempting to make a getaway.

Koelling said he wasn't injured, so he didn't press charges. Everybody has desperate times, he said.

Both Koelling and Newsome said being held at gunpoint isn't uncommon. That's why vehicles are often repossessed at night, they explained.

"It usually takes 30 seconds to a minute-and-a-half to get (the vehicle) out of the yard," Koelling said. "By the time they get out of bed and put their clothes on, we're gone."

Although it can be dangerous, Newsome said, he continues because not every repossession is a life-or-death situation.

Many times the debtors are expecting a repossession and willingly hand over the keys, or have the vehicle in the driveway with the keys inside and license plate removed.

Lenders typically wait 90 days before calling for repossession.

With the recession, Koelling said, he's not only seeing more clients but a different kind of client.

To some, he's a familiar face, having repossessed several cars from them. Now he's meeting people who usually aren't late on their payments.

The good thing for recovery agents is that repossession is a recession-proof industry. The bad thing is the bad-guy image.

"It isn't my fault," Newsome said. "People are down on their luck, and there's a trail that gets to me. They take it out on me, but it isn't my fault."

The laws of repossession

WHERE: Recovery agents can remove a vehicle from private property as long as they don't commit breaking and entering or breach the peace.

WHEN: A request for foreclosure is usually submitted internally after two months of delinquent payments. By month three, a repossession company is usually searching for the vehicle.

NOTIFICATION: Lenders are not required to notify the debtor that the vehicle is to be repossessed.

DEFICIENCY: Lenders can seek deficiency payments if the sale of the vehicle does not cover the debt. Example: If a car with a balance of $15,000 is sold for $10,000 after being repossessed, the lender can seek $5,000 from the debtor.

POSSIBLE REPOSSESSION LOOMING: If you're delinquent, avoid complications by removing items in the vehicle. Debtors should contact the lender and explain the situation as soon as nonpayment begins. Banks will sometimes defer payments or work out a payment schedule.

Source: Mark A. Cleary, of Dunstan, Cleary and West LLP in Augusta

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omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/04/10 - 01:21 am
0
0
this job sounds kinda fun..

this job sounds kinda fun..

GGpap
528
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GGpap 10/04/10 - 04:48 am
0
0
IMO, the bankers that made

IMO, the bankers that made the initial auto loan should be the ones that attempt a repossession; not professional middlemen.

While I was away from my home in another vehicle, an attempted repo of my car, purchased only one month earlier, was aborted when the repo artists realized they had picked the wrong car. BUT, in the process of trying to repossess the car my grill was damaged ($350 total) and the "repossessors were never identified. And my bank had no idea as to what or who had ordered the repossession; nor did they seem to care.

I have no pity for the thugs that repossess cars for lending agencies that make poor judgments.

GGpap

edwardc
1
Points
edwardc 10/04/10 - 07:51 am
0
0
I agree that it is

I agree that it is irresponsible (and even wicked) of lenders to give credit to people whom they know will never pay. On the other hand, the people who repossess cars and other "stolen" (unpaid for) merchandise deserve credit for taking on a tough, dangerous job. It's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. It is important to get the right vehicle.

Brad Owens
4715
Points
Brad Owens 10/04/10 - 08:09 am
0
0
I have helped do this before,

I have helped do this before, it is a bit scary, almost like you are stealing the car, but the fact remians, the lender has rights too.

Brad

mable8
2
Points
mable8 10/04/10 - 08:58 am
0
0
In my opinion the repo show

In my opinion the repo show on TrueTV is one of the worst ever to be shown. The repo group, including the ultrafat "lady", instigates the encounters by their bullying. They use more force than is necessary; a law enforcement officer or any other person would be nailed and put in jail--which is where that repo group belongs. Operation Repo does not in any form or fashion reflect the majority of those in the repo business; but lenders need to do a thorough background check on the companies they contract with in order to repossess a vehicle or any other item. It's one thing to know how to defend ones self, it is quite another to force an issue where the life of the individual who, in general, has fallen on hard times and is being threatened with violence. We all know there are some people who are prone to violent behavior; if a repo person encounters this kind of situation, this is why we have law enforcement--it is not up to the repo person to take the law into their own hands and otherwise harm innocent citizens.

flipa
35
Points
flipa 10/04/10 - 10:26 am
0
0
The repo man is caught in a

The repo man is caught in a bad practice that now allows credit card co's to get liens on cars through summary judgment of credit card debt after the credit card companies would not credit payments made on accounts. Then they "sell" the car to their cronies for pennies on the dollar, & in recorded cases send the person whose car they took a bill even larger than before the "repo". Recent cases we have on file are for debts around $20,000.’s The credit card holders were victims of ID theft or got sideways with someone at the CCC who DO NOT GIVE THEIR REAL NAMES so the large well known western bank no longer credited their payments making it look like they had defaulted on the card.. Even though the credit card holders sent in check after check they were never credited with all of the payments made. After their cars were taken their debt was over twice what they originally owed and the sale of the cars did not reduce their debt because their car was “sold” for $10.00. $20.00, or $100.00+- and the repo fee the bank charged was $500.00+-.
T-H-I-S puts the repo man in the middle. Repo men should turn down summery judgement car pickups. They may NOT be "repos" but theft by conversion. As long as summary judgment is allowed this will continue. Our 7th amendment attest that any debt over $20. MUST be heard by a judge and jury but the credit card companies donate so much money to the STATE politicians they no longer have to abide by the 7th amendment and this puts the entire community at risk because a large western bank that whips horses is so greedy they break the law, after being bailed out w/ billions of Tax Dollars AND found to be laundering drug money.

Rainbow Johnson
0
Points
Rainbow Johnson 10/04/10 - 10:56 am
0
0
Repo men are scum sucking

Repo men are scum sucking bottom feeders that profit on the misery of others. Some people are late on car payments because of financing "quirks" some are late because they are truly in trouble and unable to arrange terms of reconcillation with the lender. And then there are those who are dead beats I admit that.

These repo shows and the dirty freak "Dog the bounty hunter" show just how perverted television viewers have become. If it's sleazy there is an audience that will watch it.

There is seemingly no limit as to what extent some television channels will go to attract viewers. Who gives a rip about Kim Kardashian? I got a nice name for her which is not acceptable here.

teapot
0
Points
teapot 10/04/10 - 01:14 pm
0
0
The Repo Man is doing a job

The Repo Man is doing a job that he is hired to do. Plain Fact. If you are unable to pay for your car, take it to the lending agency and give them the keys. You are gonna lose the car anyway. Don't try to run or keep the car hidden. Doesn't work. The Repo show and Dog, Bounty Hunter are typical of the trash being shown on tv today, but the 500 plus networks must have something to show.Ah, to go back to simple times, when people paid their bills, children didn't carry guns and we talked with each other instead of texting or "tweet"ing them.

C2Soldier
0
Points
C2Soldier 10/04/10 - 02:10 pm
0
0
"Repo men are scum sucking

"Repo men are scum sucking bottom feeders that profit on the misery of others. Some people are late on car payments because of financing "quirks" some are late because they are truly in trouble and unable to arrange terms of reconcillation with the lender."

My neighbor owns a towing company and due to hard times he has started repossessing vehicles. He is by no means a "scrum sucking bottom feeder". In fact, if the debtor was a responsible citizen, my neighbor would not have a towing company. Finance companies don't repossess autos when an individual is late or there is a "quirk" in the financing. They repossess vehicles when the debtor is several months behind and has failed to contact them. There is no shame when a man hits hard times and has to cut his losses but everyone can act honorably in such a situation. Perhaps we should go back to the days of debtor’s prison or community service to repay society for your bad credit habits.

sugarbutton
994
Points
sugarbutton 10/04/10 - 02:39 pm
0
0
Yeah...and they come in your

Yeah...and they come in your yard at 6 am...for a voluntary repossession and tell you can get you things out of car and drive off while you're trying to do that with one of their agents standing next to you and drag you across the yard and you hit face first....and they drive off and never look back. BAD KARMA...I think these agents undoubtedly thought they were on TV! The owner knows and the driver that facilitated the injuries knows! Next comment will have the name of your company and the individuals that were involved!

55 F-100
1
Points
55 F-100 10/04/10 - 03:55 pm
0
0
Sounds like a good occupation

Sounds like a good occupation to have a concealed carry permit......then if someone comes at you with a 2X4 with a 16 penny nail or better yet a pit bull or rottweiler....it's trigger time!

C2Soldier
0
Points
C2Soldier 10/04/10 - 04:16 pm
0
0
Why wouldn't these guys just

Why wouldn't these guys just call the Police if someone is threatening bodily harm? Deputy shows up and they continue the repo under his watchful eye. I think a Marshall should assist in all repos to ensure that safety is maintained.

ArmedandLegal
0
Points
ArmedandLegal 10/04/10 - 04:41 pm
0
0
Repo guys are just doing a

Repo guys are just doing a job. To place any blame on them, or the banks, is moronic. When you get a car loan you provide the bank some basic info, like a SSN, and pay stub history for your job. If you meet the requirements then you get the loan.

Falling behind on your loan is no one's fault but your own. There is no such thing as "shady loans". You are an adult, you decide if you can afford a Hummer or if you need to stick with a Honda Civic.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 10/04/10 - 06:47 pm
0
0
Not sure of the cause of all

Not sure of the cause of all the vitriol against repo men (persons?); it appears to me based on their observations --correct me if I'm wrong-- that there have been a band of rogue car salesmen (persons?) going through the neighborhoods forcing people to purchase automobiles they cannot afford and then turning the debt over to unscrupulous people who come and steal back the lender's collateral . . . merely because the borrower failed to pay. Dastardly!

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 10/04/10 - 08:36 pm
0
0
What many of the readers

What many of the readers don't understand is that Operation Repo is NOTHING but theatrics. The scenes are NOT real. They are actors and nothing more. One good thing that lenders / car dealers are doing now is to install a device in the vehicle that has lights on the dash. When the borrower starts to fall behind a yellow light comes on....Even later and another yellow light comes on.....Reach a certain time without a payment and the car gets shut down. There is also a tracking device installed similar to LoJack so the lender can easily find the car. Pay off the car and the device gets removed. This is used primarily for very poor credit risk borrowers. Another great idea would be for the lender to actually possess a KEY to the car that can be used to make a repo easier. Pay off the car and you get your title and the extra key.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 10/04/10 - 08:41 pm
0
0
As a follow up, what I really

As a follow up, what I really get tired of is hearing people defend the bad guy.....Don't make your payment and it is the repo guy's fault that your car gets towed in. Don't make your mortgage payment and it is the evil bankers fault for loaning you the money for your home. It is sad that self responsibility is a fading trait in this country....And it's being made worse by the liberals who have that "victim" mentality. But then, the only thing that gives liberals their power is to keep people divided. Rich against poor. Black against white. Women against men. Young against old. Americans against illegals. They know that as long as they have Americans divided into groups that THEY can stay in power. They are now starting to learn that AMERICANS are tired of their games and are going to come together to restore America to a rule by the Constitution.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 10/04/10 - 08:41 pm
0
0
As a follow up, what I really

As a follow up, what I really get tired of is hearing people defend the bad guy.....Don't make your payment and it is the repo guy's fault that your car gets towed in. Don't make your mortgage payment and it is the evil bankers fault for loaning you the money for your home. It is sad that self responsibility is a fading trait in this country....And it's being made worse by the liberals who have that "victim" mentality. But then, the only thing that gives liberals their power is to keep people divided. Rich against poor. Black against white. Women against men. Young against old. Americans against illegals. They know that as long as they have Americans divided into groups that THEY can stay in power. They are now starting to learn that AMERICANS are tired of their games and are going to come together to restore America to a rule by the Constitution.

maryann999
0
Points
maryann999 10/04/10 - 09:21 pm
0
0
Mr. Newsome, if you job is

Mr. Newsome, if you job is too dangerous, just get another job. Is your life worth loosing over a stupid vehicle?

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 10/05/10 - 12:15 am
0
0
People who believe Repo Man,

People who believe Repo Man, All Worked Up and such probably think wrestling is real too. The majority of that reality crap is staged.

the_source
0
Points
the_source 10/05/10 - 03:49 am
0
0
Whoever thinks that repo men

Whoever thinks that repo men are "scumk sucking bottom feeders" aren't very smart. What if YOU loaned thousands of dollars to someone and that person stiffed you? Wouldn't you be a bit upset?

No, the people who have their vehicles repossessed after refusing to work with their lenders to repay the money they borrowed are the scum sucking bottom feeders who have an entitlement mentality and who seem to think that the world owes them a living.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 10/05/10 - 08:08 am
0
0
Beware humbleopinion, you

Beware humbleopinion, you were NOT supposed to figure that out :-);"They know that as long as they have Americans divided into groups that THEY can stay in power. They are now starting to learn that AMERICANS are tired of their games and are going to come together to restore America to a rule by the Constitution."

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 10/05/10 - 09:23 am
0
0
The bank, mortage company,

The bank, mortage company, merchant or anyone who extends you credit is not the bad guy. If you overextend yourself because of vanity and do not pay your bills then you are the bad guy. Banks and merchants WILL work with you. You just have to be man or woman enough to go see them. You just may have to give up some of your other things to keep the things you want. The merchants are the one who gets hurt the most because they have put out their money. The bankrupcy lawyers make out like bandits because they get paid first in any bankrupcy proceedings. The filer is treated like the guest of honor. What a shame.

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