Many businesses owners are feeling the pinch from the recession - but the tough times are stimulating other enterprises. One of those reaping the benefits - the dangerous work of vehicle repossession. Local 12's Rich Jaffe takes us for a ride with the repo man.
After the sun goes down, like an avenging angel from the dark world of finance Josh Katz prowls the streets of the Tri-State. With the hungry hook of his tow truck waiting for it's next connection, Katz consults a long list provided by finance companies and banks. Included is information about people who've fallen behind in payments for their vehicles
. "I really feel for these people I have sympathy for them, but I have to tell you I don't think it's the economy, I'm sure that attributes to it a lot but I think it's just people being poor with money, poor with handling money, and being lazy with their payments."
Katz doesn't fit your regular image of a truck driver. He calls himself a white collar repo man... an aspiring screen writer, he's finishing a college degree, but at night he works for Citywide Towing. Citywide crews search the streets around the clock for their non-paying prizes. "I HAD A GOOD NIGHT LAST NIGHT... GOT FOUR..."
The key for most repo agents is finding a way to get to the target vehicle. While they can't open your garage door, or force you to give up the keys, once they "get their hooks" into it... the property legally belongs to them. Immediately after they call police. "Hi I'd like to report a vehicle repossession...."
While repo agent's generally try to de-escalate confrontations, it can be an extremely dangerous occupation. Last year, near Atlanta, one repo man was killed and another seriously wounded when Justin Moore opened fire on them with a shotgun as they repossessed his Mustang. Moore actually chased them down, ran them off the road and opened fire. A stiff price to pay when you consider a single vehicle is worth about fifty dollars to a repo agent.
On this night Katz cruised the extensive parking lot of a local apartment complex looking for the right Chevy Malibu. When he found it, he counseled the driver how to get it back and even helped her remove personal property.
The recession has hit every sector of the economy so hard that the repo business is going like gang busters, and it's not just cars. These guys have recently taken in everything from jet skis, to bass boats to RV's.
About 60 percent of the local repo business takes place at night but during the day they also hook up. "My truck stays right here...I'll get that car to my truck."
Josh McWhorter literally dragged this car to his tow truck. It's one of two his company wants from the same address. "My thing is this car's been sitting there and sitting there and it's a repo too, we been trying to get the other one before we get this one and it's time to get one of them."
Occasionally confronted by everything from angry dogs to loaded shotguns, these guys try to be philosophical about what they do. "Ultimately you just have to understand it's a job and you're doing the right thing morally and ethically there are no problems I have with the job, but I still feel sorry for people but no there's nothing anybody can say to me nothing at all, just stand there stone faced and take it."
Realistically a bank or finance company can repossess your vehicle if you fall behind by just one payment... But most would rather work with you to make the payments.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Repo Biz Booming In Recession
Here's a surprisingly positive story about a repo man from WKRC in Cincinnati:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 7:18 AM