News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 7, 2010
It's a thriving industry.
Down Low Repossessions is a repo company. They're one of a few in the area, on the roads for up to 12 hours per day looking for cars people haven't paid for.
"90 percent of them believe they can pay for the car and then they go in over their head," the owner told News 12. We were asked not to identify the owner's real name, so we'll refer to him as "James".
Companies say business picks up in March when people begin cashing in their tax refund checks for a ride. A few months later, car dealers, title pawn shops, and banks want their money. Eleven companies call on Down Low Repo.
"When they get these cars, they try to pay for them, but a lot of people don't know they'll put it out for repo that quick," James said.
Even one day after a payment is due, a car can be legally repossessed. Though official statistics aren't kept on the number of repossessions, companies notice a rise in the summer. Down Low is looking for 46 cars.
James drives around town, trying to spot the cars at people's addresses and at their work. He follows some and checks the VIN to know if it's the car he's looking for.
He usually recovers two to four cars each day.
"Only thing I can do is keep hitting the addresses, day, night, 4, 5 o'clock in the morning," he said.
People hide their cars, lock them up...anything to keep the ride.
"We'll wait to catch you," James said. "Say you want to go to Bi-Lo and get you some milk, you'll be toting that gallon of milk to the house."
"People are unpredictable," he went on. "(Working in repossession,) you never know what to expect. Just hope you come home that night."
To avoid the repo man, make your payments on time. Work with your creditor. If you tell them what your situation is, they may allow you to pay late. Make sure you put your request in writing.
Companies can always go on public property and even private property, as long as they're not "breaching the peace". They're taught to avoid confrontations. James says he only uses his taser, night stick, or pepper spray about once every three months.