Repo men or car thieves taking that car?

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - After a man and woman were arrested Monday and charged with trying to steal property using a tow truck, people are asking how to identify a reputable repo man?  Derrick Shonk has seen hundreds.

"By law, they don't have to let them know who they are or what they're doing. But any reputable repossession company will introduce themselves," says Shonk, founder and owner of Central Alabama Recovery Systems. "If they're confronted at 2 or 3 in the morning, they'll let the person know who the lienholder is, what they're there for, and that should legitimize what they're doing."

Shonk says repossession agents should always have the right paperwork from the bank for whoever owes on that loan. And in Alabama, they're not allowed to carry a gun.

"Every repo agent is a non-confrontational person, the only way they'll get in a physical altercation is if they're defending themselves," Shonk says.

The company must show paperwork.  "If a company or repo agency can't provide you with that, I would definitely call the authorities and let them investigate that," Shonk says.

Shonk heard about Monday's arrests of two people accused of trying to steal a truck by hooking it up to their tow truck. He says those cases give his industry a bad rap.
"First of all, it's jeopardizing my employees being out there," Shonk says. "They are going out there and conducting business, they're doing a lawful repossession.

To try and make the repo process more clear for everyone, Shonk says repo companies are pushing for new federal regulations on how repos are done so that everyone is one the same page. Jefferson County's Sheriff's Chief Deputy welcomes that.

"If there was some kind of regulations across the board that they all had to adhere to I think that would be helpful, I think it would be helpful to the repossession companies and the financial institutions," said Chief Deputy Randy Christian.

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