Asset Forfeiture

Business Is Booming for the Repo Man

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At least it's not "Hot Shots: Part Deux"

The Miami Herald reports that not everyone is taking the credit crunch as hard as kids in Britain:

While the recession means hard times for most people, it's a godsend for the repo man, the person who shows up—often unexpectedly—to snatch your property when you're behind on payments.

At [Repo man Charlie Clarke's] employer, Fort Lauderdale boat repossessor and auctioneer National Liquidators, business has tripled in the last 18 months as higher maintenance fees, fuel and docking costs—as well as the real-estate crisis—have put boat owners behind on payments.

"Before the house, everything else goes," says Clarke, a former navy engineer who's never seen more boats in five years on the job. He has taken small motorboats, sailboats and multimillion-dollar yachts. For the 63-footer he takes on this day, its loan hasn't been paid for months, with $200,000 overdue.

I grew up in a Florida neighborhood where repos were a daily occurrence long before the housing bubble burst, and as such, I view folks like Clark with a mixture of disgust and awe: they make their money off saps who can't pay the bills, but they do so with incredible efficiency. As Bryan Burrough points out in his Vanity Fair story about the collapse of Bear Stearns, one person's (or company's) bad news, is another person's cause for celebration.

Katherine Mangu-Ward blogged here about the repo man's alleged credit crunch cohort: payday lenders.

NEXT: The Answer Is: Because Most of Them Totally Suck! The Question Is...

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  1. A broken-window fallacy to say it’s a good thing, though, but there’s nothing wrong with being a repo man. Somebody’s gotta do it.

  2. Repo men are indeed the Navy SEALs of consumer finance, but people make it easy for them.

    A locked garage door will defeat the repo man. But people persist in leaving their cars in the driveway even when they’re way behind on their payments. Move some of that garage stuff into your basements, guys, and lock the car up.

  3. Repo men must be more like ninjas than SEALs, because I can’t see how they avoid getting the shit beaten out of them (at best) constantly.

    People get testy when you take their shit, even if they aren’t paying for it.

  4. I hafta get my wife’s car out of this bad area.

  5. Why is there no Emilio Estevez picture in this post? I demand an explanation.

  6. A locked garage door will defeat the repo man

    I don’t have a garage. The repo man took it!

  7. Besides general human sympathy for people down on their luck, I’ve never understood the hatred people have for repo men.
    Once you stop making payments, you’ve essentially stolen the item, and an honest person would make alternate financial arrangements or return the merchandise to the seller.
    But then, I’ve only been laid off 3 times in my life, so I wouldn’t know anything about being really broke.

    1. NO… It is not stealing… Essentially this is a civil matter between the lender and the borrower. The Repo man has NO right to breach the peace by tampering with or breaking a locking mechanism in any way. If the lender wished they could file with the court to have the police present during the repo (which is the same as an eviction). Under NO circumstances in CA is a repo man legally allowed to trespass or breach the peace. People usually don’t fight it because they can’t afford the attorney. I have read up and won settlements against repo companies for damages to property and filed criminal complaints for breach of peace. Most of these guys are shady to begin with so once you file and start asking for their paperwork (Uniform Commercial Code stuff) they tend to stop talking… Then it gets interesting when the repo man is hiding from you.If the car is in your driveway or on the street… Bye-Bye..

      Not all repo companies (or employees) are scum though. They are doing their job too. During a recession, some win and some lose. It’s the way of things. I was fortunate enough to have been a recipient of repo services after the dot.com bust. The man was generally nice. Called, made appointment, was punctual, supplied all license and contact info in paperwork. Let me inspect the vehicle and remove anything forgotten (including an aftermarket set of rims and tires), then left. We can’t all be so lucky all the time.

  8. […] I view folks like Clark with a mixture of disgust and awe: they make their money off saps who can’t pay the bills, but they do so with incredible efficiency.

    No, they make their money off of the people who loaned money to saps who can’t pay the bills. You know… the actual owners of the property.

    I don’t get the disgust for the repo man.

  9. Putting your car in a friend’s locked garage might defeat the repo man, but what’s the point? You end up riding the bus to work, either way.

  10. Not may people have a code to live by anymore.

    I shall not cause harm to a vehicle,
    or the personal contents thereof.

    Nor through inaction, let vehicle or
    personal contents come to harm.

    Me, I’m thinking now is a good time to buy a boat.

  11. Putting your car in a friend’s locked garage might defeat the repo man, but what’s the point? You end up riding the bus to work, either way.

    Well, if you ultimately plan on making your payments, then you won’t have to also pay the repo man fee and the per diem storage charge. That’s in the states where you have time to get the car back before it goes to auction. Or in states where you don’t get that time, if you can keep the car hidden long enough to get caught up on your payments, you don’t lose the car. In the meantime, if you have an emergency where you absolutely need to use the car, you can.

    Lots of upside to hiding the car.

  12. Repo men must be more like ninjas than SEALs, because I can’t see how they avoid getting the shit beaten out of them (at best) constantly.

    Repo men tend to be pretty good at avoiding confrontation by taking back the property after hours or when you aren’t there.

    Some of them do recon and do their best to get the shit quickly and quietly and never even make contact with the dead-beat. I believe the repo-man has a dangerous job, and they go out of their way to avoid any extra risks.

    They are everything the cops should be, but aren’t.

    I have a dead-beat family member who got their SUV repo’d because they were behind 2 payments. Dude came overnight while deadbeat relative was asleep and just took the car from the parking spot.

    I don’t get the repo-man hate either. I know that people have hardships, but so what? Hardship doesn’t entitle you to keep merchandise that hasn’t been paid for.

    1. It’s too bad, but, hardship or not, the ownership of the car is never with the repo company unless they bought the loan. It is with the lender/borrower and registered to the borrower.

      What do you consider “paid for”? What if someone had only 3 payments left on a 5 year loan and met the repo? or missed their 5th payment from losing their job right after purchase? I have represented both cases in court. The court (CA) sees them as one in the same. The borrower and registered driver/owner of the vehicle until the financing company files or sells the loan. Repo companies over step their boundaries quite often and end up with big settlements against them. If they stick to the rules they are fairly safe. The late night repo is also VERY dangerous. Repo employees have been mistaken for thieves. It’s best to call and work with the borrower or file and get police escort (like evictions).

  13. Hey, anybody remember that repo man show hosted by Big Pussy?

  14. epo men must be more like ninjas than SEALs, because I can’t see how they avoid getting the shit beaten out of them (at best) constantly.

    People get testy when you take their shit, even if they aren’t paying for it.
    Well, the life of the repo man is always intense.

  15. I pay cash for my cars.

    I guess that makes me some sort of un-American weirdo.

  16. I don’t get the tagline.
    It’s “yam”?
    What do sweet potatoes have to do with this?

  17. I pay cash for my cars.

    I guess that makes me some sort of un-American weirdo.

    You’re not alone. I do too.

  18. Putting your car in a friend’s locked garage might defeat the repo man, but what’s the point? You end up riding the bus to work, either way.

    I do my best thinking on the bus.

  19. Nicely done.

  20. I blame society. Society made me what I am.

    Anyone else want some FOOD(MEAT FLAVORED) and DRINK?

  21. I do my best thinking on the bus.

    The more you drive, the less intelligent you get.

    (I agree, but then again, maybe I did too much acid back in the hippie days)

  22. Repo man. Check. Payday loan operations. Check. But won’t somebody please think of the rent-to-own stores?

    It’s a beautiful night, you can almost see the stars.

  23. Lots of upside to hiding the car.

    If you’re not bothered by holding property you’re not entitled to, that is.

    God, I loved Repo Man. Among its other charms, it gives an absolutely textbook illustration of someone gets indoctrinated into a cult.

    I pay cash for my cars.

    That makes four of us, if you count my wife.

  24. That makes four of us, if you count my wife.

    I don’t know if your wife counts. Does she have a VIN?

  25. I pay cash for my cars, but I borrow it from M&P bank. M&P, as in Mom and Pop, I get really good terms from them.

  26. I pay cash for my cars.

    I guess that makes me some sort of un-American weirdo.

    You’re not alone. I do too.
    Credit is a sacred trust, it’s what our free society was founded on! Do you think they give a damn about their bills in Russia? I said do you think they give a damn about their bills in Russia!?

  27. I pay cash as well.

    However, one of my sisters had her car repo’d some years back. My father bailed her out and gave her money for a new car (cash) but she borrowed to buy the car anyway, wasted the cash on who-knows-what and filed for bankruptcy. The courts will not take your car in a bankruptcy… So in the end she snookered my pops and the dealership and kept the car.

    What a piece of work.

  28. They don’t have bills in Russia. Everything’s free.

  29. I shed a tear for Emilio Estevez’s acting career. One nice shot with Repo Man and then…please help me, what else was he in? That was good?

  30. I’ll throw out:

    Maximum Overdrive

    The Breakfast Club

  31. I shed a tear for Emilio Estevez’s acting career. One nice shot with Repo Man and then…please help me, what else was he in? That was good?

    The Mighty Ducks ?

    Men At Work ?

    Stakeout ?

    OK seriously — I actually liked:

    That was then…This is now.

  32. A close friend of mine did a stint as a repo man. They usually wait until you’re inside of your place of employment and take you car from the business’ parking lot.

    The bank or dealership has all of your employment info on-hand, so it is a pretty easy wait.

    I don’t think they can remove the car from your driveway, let alone garage. This would be trespassing, at least without something from the sheriff and the court.

  33. Oh, and let’s go do some crimes.

  34. houses in florida dont have basements

  35. I once worked with a lady who did repos with her husband. There were the usual stories about repo jobs, but the greatest story was when they repo’d a prison guard’s car. From the Corcoran State Prison parking lot! They got caught and guards were shooting at them. They ducked and floored it. Fortunately there was a earthen berm in front of the prison, and once they got out of the prison proper they were shielded from further bullets. They stopped repoing soon after that.

  36. This totally reminds me, I can’t wait for Repo: The Genetic Opera to come out. Imagine a Saw rock opera. If you can handle the blood, check out the Youtube preview.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=GfJxCYTKOi8

  37. Let’s go get sushi and not pay!

  38. Its always an ebb and flow for every industry and its also geographic based as well. What might be popping here in Fort Lauderdale might not be the same in Ohio. When everyone is doing great Im sure the repo man is in the slumps.

    Walt
    Fort Lauderdale Real Estate

  39. Why shouldnt the repo man have a good year. Some industries flourish in a bad economy picking up other peoples debt is one of them. Its great here in Fort Lauderdale, we have about half as many boats on the water!

    – James – Realtor,
    Fort Lauderdale Real Estate

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