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Image courtesy Wikipedia

When you can’t pay cash for a car or ATV, you borrow the money and promise to pay it back. When you can’t pay the lender, they’ll eventually send someone like Otto from the ‘Helping Hand Acceptance Agency’ to take it back. When this happens, the law is pretty squarely on Otto’s side. Don’t f*ck with Otto. Don’t be like Jason W. Greber . . .

According to police, 57 year-old Greber had fallen way behind on the payments for his ATV. When the repo guys showed up to take it back, he ran them off his property.

So far, so good. Repo men are legally privileged to enter onto private property to reclaim personal property in which their employer has a perfected security interest, which is Lawyer-ese for ‘if they filed their lien, they can come take it.’

But there’s a catch: repo men are only allowed to repossess personal property where it can be done without any ‘breach of the peace.’ Broken windows, smashed doors, physical violence or threats all constitute a ‘breach of the peace’ which can turn a simple repo job into a legal nightmare for their employer and the bank that hired them. In extreme cases, it can even turn a legal repo job into a conviction for aggravated robbery.

But that’s not at all what happened here. The repo guys apparently followed the rules, and Greber allegedly lost his cool. He may have thought he was defending his property, but 1) he wasn’t in any danger, and 2) it wasn’t really his property any more.


According to KPLR-11 (St. Louis):

[The repo men] arrived at the residence late in the morning to repossess an ATV.  The repo men made contact with the suspect, identified as 57-year-old Joseph W Greber and explained the situation.  Greber refused to unlock the ATV and ordered the men off the property.

The victims left but later returned around 1:00 PM.  As the victims drove by Greber’s residence, he walked out and yelled at the victims saying they could not drive by his property.  Greber then went into his trailer and returned with a 12-guage shotgun and quickly fired two rounds in their direction.  The victims quickly drove their vehicle to a safe location and contacted police.

Greber had a Ruger .22 pistol in his hand when the police arrived, and he was at least smart enough to drop it when ordered to. They arrested him and quickly found two spent 12-ga. shotgun hulls nearby.

He was charged with two counts of felony 2nd Degree Assault and one lesser count of Unlawful Use Of A Weapon, and his $50,000 bail is probably ten times the amount he owed on the mortgaged ATV. Sucks for him, eh?

I guess Harry Dean Stanton had it right: a repo man is always intense.


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  1. I had to deal with a call one time where a repo company came to take this dudes car. They showed up looking like a cross between dog the bounty hunter’s clan and the duck dynasty folk. They stormed into his yard wearing LBVs and open carrying revolvers yelling and threatening the dude. I told them to get lost and that they’re lucky the owner of the vehicle didn’t do more than call the police

  2. One of the many reasons debt should be reserved exclusively for emergencies and home purchases. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy money to pay for it.

    • “don’t buy money to pay for it”

      I don’t know if you realize just how astute that statement is. You are not buying (fill in item here) if you have to finance it. You are buying the money the seller wants for the item. This is at the heart of our debt=enslavement economic system.

      • Yep, that’s why I phrased it that way. I’m glad you liked it.

        Someone on here wrote about paying for ‘immediate needs’ with debt. I’m inclined to disagree under MOST circumstances. Need a gun for self-defense? Borrow one if you can, or work until you can afford the worst thing that will reliably do the job (I’m not recommending a Jennings here), and then resell it (or keep it as a backup) when you can afford something better. The same applies to cars and other things that are almost necessities.
        Work hard and save/invest your money so you can improve your happiness and security, not to pay off credit card bills.

    • We live in a world of credit, since biblical times. I commend you on buying your house with cash.

      • Guy says:
        March 20, 2014 at 16:05
        One of the many reasons debt should be reserved exclusively for emergencies and home purchases. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy money to pay for it.

  3. Pro Tip: If you can’t pay cash for it and it isn’t a need (a defensive gun qualifies as a need in my book, though a lesser one than food, water, and shelter), don’t buy it.

    • I think the hard question most of us deal with is how we can justify to ourselves that the 10th gun is a need 🙂

  4. What a putz!

    Not only has he lost “his” ATV, but I betcha he doesn’t own any guns anymore, either.

  5. Creditors’ rights are actually more limited than most people (and lawyers) think. The repo company, as an arm of the creditor, is subject to those limitations.

    Additionally, I’d argue that, in this case, the repo men did “breach the peace” by contacting the owner (note: the law refers to the debtor as the “owner”) and requesting he assist with the repossession.

    It seems to me the charges in this case are due to the shooting being a separate incident.

    • I wouldn’t say simply contacting an owner is a breach of peach. It
      depends on the situation. If the repo drives up, calmly explains
      the issue and them takes possession, no problem. If 1 or more
      repo guys tear into the yard dressed like SWAT and demand the
      property then it can be seen as purposely confrontational.
      Depending on ones state and local laws, a repo man may not
      actually be able to retrieve possessions themselves, especially
      if they’re on private property. In many places you need either the
      (previous) owners permission or an okay from LE.

      • They requested he unlock the ATV in question. I would say they should have reasonably expected a confrontation. Again, though, the weapon discharge happened after the fact, after they had left the property (if their story is to be believed, which I’m choosing to do) in a related but separate incident.

  6. “If you can’t afford to pay cash, don’t buy it” is simplistic advice. Better advice is “don’t borrow to purchase a non-income producing asset or a depreciating personal asset. Be sensible and don’t over-leverage.”

    Borrow to buy a home, but not the Taj Mahal when all you afford is a three bedroom ranch. Borrow to buy income properties, but make sure that the properties will debt service even in a downturn. Borrow to buy the equipment you need to run or grow your business. Borrow to buy a car if you need one to get to work — just don’t buy a Lexis when all you can really afford is a Chevy. And don’t borrow to buy toys.

    • Good advice, and true advice. Unfortunately, this advice also presumes a level of financial sophistication and savvy–and personal restraint–that most Americans simply don’t possess.

      Don’t use credit to buy stuff you don’t need is a much simpler rule to remember. Not necessarily easier to live by, just easier to remember.

  7. Don’t borrow money to buy something that goes down in value as you own it.

    That said, I used to repo cars and a lot of times folks were really happy to see us.

    • ^^^^ This x100… I too used to do it.. it is single-handedly one of the most gut wrenching experiences… Always expecting to get shot, or dealing with someone’s ‘please don’t take my car, I need it to get my kids from my ex…, etc, … I hated the job, but it paid well… You get the finder’s fee, the hook up charge, the mileage fee, and typically the storage fee.

      Agree.. don’t finance toys!

  8. Interesting that news report called the repo men “victims”. Could there “victims” not have had police backup?

    • There are often not enough police resources in an area to be present for every private repossession.

    • police are not allowed to interfere. a repossession is a civil matter. in fact, it is considered a wrongful repossession if the police become involved. a self help repossession cannot occur under “color of law”. the only way to lawfully enforce a repossession is if the lender files for a replevin order in court. this is much more expensive for them when they are already taking a loss on having to repossess and sell at auction. as a repo man, i wish we had police backup. we go to some pretty rough parts of town where people have a hard time putting 2 and 2 together, let alone understanding contract law. i know we have a bad rep, but our job is essential to make cars affordable to everyone. what would happen if there were no consequences to defaulting on a loan? you would have to have stellar credit and still your interest rate would be incredibly high to borrow money. the risk on the lender’s investment would simply be too high. would you borrow money to somebody if you didn’t know you will get it back and have no recourse if you didn’t?

  9. No way grebner did not know he was behind in his payments. No way did he not know they had a right to repo his junk. He was a dumb ass and got the dumb ass award. Next case.

  10. I used to repo trumpets and other band instruments. Most parents were glad to see me. I always figured it was because their kid sounded terrible practicing the thing. Also, I didn’t explain that they still owed the back payments on the thing.

  11. Alot of gray areas what repo men can do to reclaim property. They CAN enter private property but they CANNOT cut locks, break doors etc… to gain access. If this guy had kept his ATV locked in a shed theres not alot the repo guys could do. And any repo man dumb enough to poke around a guys locked property in the dark is asking for it, even if the guy is a deadbeat he still has a right to shoot burglars. “Then you woke up in a puddle.”

  12. My one and only first hand experience with repo men came when I was working security as a second job. I worked at a gated community in San Ramon. As I was driving patrol I recieved a radio call from the main gate that the police were here to repo a limo. The police?

    I responded to the location and found a couple of people in an unmarked vehicle attempting to gain access to the limo. I blocked them in and asked for paper work and ID. Immediately a young man began barking at me about interfering with the police.

    I again demanded he prove his id. After a lot of bluff and bluster he showed me a city id from another city. He was a community service officer, a meter maid, from another city.

    Apparently he worked on the side with a repo company and had run this bluff quite a few times at the various gated communities in the area. The real cops were not amused and neither was the city he worked for.

    After working at the gated communities for a while I came to the conclusion that lot’s of folks lived on credit and were paper rich but couldn’t scrape any real money together. Lot of dead beats in those gated communities.

    • “…lived on credit and were paper rich but couldn’t scrape any real money together…”

      We affectionately call that “hood rich.” It’s when someone has the look down, but is all hat and no cattle when it comes to actual liquidity.

      See also: the “$10,000 millionaire,” who wears designer jeans and drive a leased Lexis out to the club on Friday night, but has to wake up on Saturday to be at his food court job by 9:00 AM.

      • It’s now called “America”, when you have record tax revenue for this year but are still 2 trillion in the hole.

  13. There are a lot of “repo men” out there who are nothing but hired thugs, however. I had a sign company send a guy to my store to threaten to repo my sign unless I paid them for work that they never actually completed. I had to hire another company just to finish the job, and these guys expected to get paid.

    I laughed at the guy and told him to get off my property before I called the cops. You can’t repo something – at least in my former state – without it having an actual lien on it. I guess they just thought I’d be intimidated, but unfortunately for them I know the law. Guy threatened to come and take it anyway and I took his picture and told him I would have him arrested for grand theft if I came to work and my sign was gone.

  14. It would benefit EVERYONE to learn the laws for the state they live in regarding EXACTLY what a repo man can and cannot do. In addition it wouldn’t hurt to learn how the law reads regarding “bounty hunters” who are another group that treads a fine line between being legal and being a bunch of hired thugs who belong in jail with their intended quarry. If one truly understands what the laws does and does not allow it makes it a lot harder for the con men with the clip boards to dupe people into giving up their rights.

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