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Friday, January 16, 2009

Shooting At IL Repo Team Is Sign of the Times, Industry Expert Says

Interesting story from the Chicago Tribune. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed.
A repossession team hooking a sport-utility vehicle in Hoffman Estates told police that a man opened fire on them as they sped away with the vehicle in tow, authorities said Thursday.

No one was wounded, but the shooting is a sure sign, some say, that a tough job is getting a lot tougher as the nation's financial crisis deepens.

"It cranks up the emotions of these people," said Edwin Pavel, a director of the trade group Illinois Recovery Association and the president of a repossession company in Cary. "They're angry. And we're the ones who bear the brunt of their emotions when we come to their door."

Pavel said there has been "a frenzy of repossessions since June of last year. With the current recession, it's not going to get better."

Three employees from Palatine-based Professional Recovery Services—two men and a woman—went to the 1900 block of Brighton Lane about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday to repossess the Isuzu SUV and a Cadillac, Hoffman Estates police said.

They found the SUV in the driveway, but did not see the Cadillac, police Lt. Rich Russo said.

The employees told police that after hitching up the Isuzu to their tow truck, one of them went to the door. When no one answered, he left and then a man came out of the house and slipped on ice, the employees told police.

When the employee asked if the man was OK, he got up and pointed a chrome revolver at the employee, Russo said. The man told them to unhook the SUV, Russo said.

"The repo guy says, 'Sure. Relax. I will,' " Russo said. "He walks toward the Isuzu, presumably to unhook it. But decides to jump in the tow truck and hit the gas. As they drive away, they hear five or six shots."

Police responded after the team reported the shooting, but officers determined that the owner of the car had left the area.

Investigators were seeking to interview him Thursday, Russo said.

"There were people in the house," Russo said. "But it was determined that person who may or may not have fired the shots fled the scene."

Officials from Professional Recovery Services could not be reached for comment.

Officers later learned that the Cadillac the repo team was looking for had been parked in the garage at the time. It was gone when police arrived, Russo said.

Pavel said that as the number of tense situations has increased, some companies, including his, have begun mounting video cameras in their trucks.

Another trade group official said the economic downturn has made repossessions easier because people are more willing to admit they can't make payments.

"In some instances, it's become easier because people realize they're at the end of their rope," said Kevin McGivern, also a director of Illinois Recovery Association, who runs a repossession business in Chicago.

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