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“Here lies the body of William Jay, Who died maintaining his right of way— He was right, dead right, as he sped along, But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.”
― Dale Carnegie, From How To Win Friends and Influence People.

A recent story out of Florida shows us that being dead right isn’t helpful. A tow truck driver narrowly avoided tragedy during a repo job when he got out of his truck to fight with a man who was trying to keep him from towing a car. But, the guy ran back into his house to get a gun and shot him.

Before anybody runs to the comments to tell me about how the guy should have made his car payment or arranged to get rid of it peacefully, I want to be clear that I totally agree. Nothing I say here should be considered defense of the guy who not only didn’t make his payments, but almost killed somebody over it. He’s 1,000% in the wrong here.

That having been said, if you’re the repo guy, do you think this would be any comfort to your family if you got killed? Not really. You can be 100% in the right, dead right, and still be just as dead as if you were wrong. This man narrowly escaped death, but only through dumb luck and not skill.

Before the shooting, neighbors had a chance to start recording, and we can see exactly how the conflict went from a bad repo job to a near-death experience that the driver is likely to feel for the rest of his life. We don’t know what happened before the camera started recording, but we do know that the car’s former owner came out to stand in the way of letting the driver hook up.

When the driver (possibly illegally) used the vehicle’s tow bar to push the man and go ahead with the tow anyway, the guy losing the car ran up to the window of the truck and punched the driver. At this point the driver got out and chased the man. A yelling match ensued, and the guy came out with a pistol, shooting the repo man four times.

Again, there’s nothing moral or legal about this shoot, but it was probably avoidable, and you can bet the driver is sitting in a hospital bed wishing now that he had done more avoiding instead of taking four bullets for the bank.

For one, it was probably not legal to use the tow equipment to push the man’s feet aside when he stood in the way of the repo process. As in many other states, Florida does not allow repo men to “breach the peace” to get access to a vehicle. This includes the use of force (like pushing a guy with the towing gear), breaking of locks and anything else that damages property or causes too much of a scene.

If the man had gone back in the house and called 911 instead of assaulting the driver, the repo driver could have gotten in serious trouble for vehicular assault and breaching the peace. That’s not something a professional repo man wants to risk.

A smarter driver would have put the house under surveillance and come back later when they knew nobody was home, or followed them to a store and snagged it in a parking lot. They also could have gone to court to get an order to give the car up, and come back with police to legally take the car. The bank can also go to court, and hit the guy’s credit for the full amount of the loan without taking the car back and auctioning it, or put a lien on the guy’s home, among many other options.

In other words, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the law lets losers win. They always lose in the end one way or another, and it’s worth your time to keep yourself safe while pursuing justice.

Another really bad move was exiting the truck. The truck was a relatively safe place and was an easy way to get away if things got ugly. Getting out to fight back and get into a screaming match only ups the risk without increasing the odds of getting the car hooked up.

Finally, you might be sick of hearing about Verbal Judo if you’re a regular reader, but non-violent dispute resolution techniques are the way through most of these encounters. Instead of getting out to fight and scream, using Verbal Judo skills like the “Five Step Hard Style” can go a long way toward getting voluntary compliance.

Those steps are:

  • Ask (ethical appeal)
  • Set context (reasonable appeal: explain policies and rules)
  • Present options (reasonable appeal: what’s in it for them and what if they don’t)
  • Confirm (practical appeal: “can I do or say anything to make you cooperate”)
  • Act

But, if you can’t remember five steps, remember that you need to ask people before you tell them. Everyone wants to feel important, and giving them a chance to give up with dignity goes a long way toward making it happen the easy way.

A repo man doesn’t have the force options police do, but he can:

  • Calmly ask the guy if he can comply with the repo willingly
  • Let him know what the situation is if the man refuses
  • Let him know what his options are (coming back with police, going to court, or getting a lien on the house)
  • Asking him if there’s anything he can do to get the guy to let him do the tow
  • The, leave and go exercise those other options

Watch this guy go through the five steps:

But, in a stressful situation, it can be hard to remember to ask or go through the five steps. So, you have to watch out for yourself and identify the signs of stress and anger. When you see it happening, you have to train yourself to take a few deep breaths (box breathing is easy to remember), and calm yourself down until you can remember your Verbal Judo skills.

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94 COMMENTS

    • This really sounds like a case of double stupid. I’m glad the repo man lived. Both parties should probably get some time behind bars. The repo man for third degree assault and the shooter for first degree assault or attempted murder.

      Avoid these problems and always buy cars with cash 😉

      • Or just make your payments like you do with rent/mortgage, credit cards, etc. Also talk to your creditors. I have been up to 2 months behind on car payments at points in my past. Calling the financiers and explaining the situation was sufficient to give me the time needed to catch up. Making a partial payment in such a situation is often enough to assure them of your honesty. There are options.

        • I totally agree. If you are a nonviolent person. Then make your payment on time. And explain what is going on in your life. Banks will work with you.

          I’ve made partial payments until I got back on my feet financially in the past. It’s called being responsible.

          Also it’s the banks property not yours. Until you pay off your truck note.

      • In Florida the tow driver would likely be charged with aggravated battery. Using the metal bar, essentially an extension of the conveyance, to forcefully push a person down makes it, or the whole truck itself, the same as a weapon. If the other dude was carrying right then and there and mag dumped into the tow truck he’d have probably walked.

  1. Repo man is one of those jobs I would not do if I needed a job. I have nothing against the guy. I just recognize the risks of that job and do not think the pay off is worth it.

    Also in Florida. Naked woman walked into a store and threatened to kill everybody with an apple peeler. So it ain’t just Florida man.

    • Peeled her clothes right off.
      Those apple peelers have the mind of a scary black rifle.
      Trust no weapon.

  2. Definitely a high risk profession. I’d be thinking body armor honestly.

    I think at the point the guy was actively blocking me from taking the car, I’d probably be getting the police involved. They can confront the idiot with a hand gun.

  3. such great advice. i’ve about reached my preach quotient.
    i have five friends that do this for equitable services; they’re gonna get your stuff.

      • Not necessarily. An “agent” (which could be friend or other associate) of a car dealer can help recover cars when payments get behind. Now, to operate a repo service for hire “out there” ight require a permission slip (for a hefty fee, OF COURSE) from da gunnit. Nother story.

        • bonded to be covered by equitable, freelance operatives sometimes permitted, esp. for the motobikey stuff.

    • Because shouting ” I’m gonna go get my gunm.” Is scary.
      So is.
      Dont – make- me- pop- the- trunk on you.

      • Rule number one… If you’re gonna carry, ALWAYS carry… If I’m outside my home my piece is always with me. Stranger on my door cam? Meet me and my “hidden” little friend… Stranger in my fully enclosed back yard (with 8′ privacy fence)? Say “hello” to my little friend… I NEVER need to go back in the house to get my gun… “Glock, S&W, Ruger, Colt, Kimber, H&K or whatever you carry” don’t leave home without it..

  4. Didja know? FL law states that a repo man can’t carry a gun.

    Furthermore, “if the borrower verbally objects or attempts to physically prevent the repossession, the agent must withdraw or retreat from the confrontation.”

    • Hmmmm

      Maybe this set of restrictions should be changed nest leg session. Seems to tilt the table strongly toward the deadbeat. Hard on the honest businessman selling cars.

      This sort of law is why many car lots will not extend credit. You go find your own. Touch yer bro in law, yer sweetie pie, your rich uncle. Better yet, drive a car you can afford to buy puting the plonk on the table and walking out with title and keys all at the same time.

      • I believe this law is based around the well known fact that repo “men” are by and large, scum. Creatures likely with one foot already in a prison.

  5. What should have happened, according to FL statutes, is that the repo/tow truck driver is to leave without the vehicle if the owner protests. An exception is if the tow truck driver has already connected to the vehicle. The driver is forbidden from opening gates to access a vehicle. Even if they are unlocked. In this case when repo guy bumped into owner he committed agg battery with a motor vehicle. Then the owner committed battery. Then repo guy trespasses, maybe burglary, when he ran into the owners home. Then… What a damn mess. If repo guy leaves without the car he doesn’t get paid. Lien holder then has to get a replevin that the sheriff’s office serves. There’s a fee for each of these steps. That’s why they like to snatch them and run if they can.

      • dead beat borrow should have just found a car he can pay for and drive away with the car, keys, and title.

      • Deadbeat borrower should have made his payments per the contract he agreed to when he signed it. Fuck, does anyone believe in honor anymore? I give my word you can bet your life on it… Car Dealer sells cars to pay HIS bills and feed HIS family, there are a lot of shady car dealers (mostly the “buy here pay here” types) that take advantage of people already in an unfortunate situation, but if you are man enough to make a deal be man enough to honor it…

        • President Biden taught me all I need to know about honor. A handshake , a hair sniff and ass grab that little girl.
          I’m right proud of the Greatest President America has or ever will have.

        • Agreed. But if someone intentionally strikes me with part of their vehicle I’m probably going to kill them right then and there. That’s honor.

  6. The saddest part of the story is that it was over a Nissan SUV. That’s how you choose to live beyond your means? How embarrassing.

      • I’ve owned a few niceuns, including Infiniti and Datsun. Guess how many I’d be willing to kill or die for?

        “What are you in for?” Well, I financed this Nissan SUV with a continuously variable tranzmission. No one was going to take that from me.

        • other than the prototype, those were not mishiheavy powered.
          i had a ’71 colt/ galant that was way better than a b210, but not as cool as a 510 bluebird.

  7. Serious correction:

    “but we do know that the car’s former owner came out to stand in the way of letting the driver hook up.”

    Dude WAS NEVER THE OWNER of the vehicle. He had a contract that said he could use the car, if he kept up payments. The bank/credit union/whoever actually owned the vehicle.

    In today’s deep-in-debt America, people may THINK that they own something when they sign a credit contract. The fact is, you own NOTHING, unless and until you make that final payment. In the case of real estate, you may or may not own any equity in the property, but you don’t even own the property until you make that final payment.

    So, when you boil the story down, angry consumer shot another man over something that wasn’t even his.

    • You certainly dont own the land your house or hunting lodge sits on.
      Eminent domain, move that mansion the Interstate is coming through.

      • “Eminent domain, move that mansion the Interstate is coming through.”

        ‘Might makes right’.

    • oftentimes it’s the valuables that live in the car. it does get cleaned out and inventoried, but if you haven’t been through it you might assume it’s all gonna disappear.
      it’s amazing what they find in the trunks; my locals are amazingly flexible on returning contraban.

    • Wow. So clearly you know absolutely nothing about contract law, nor possession. Jesus Christ….. sad.

  8. My father did a short stint as a repo man while back in his college days long ago. He was in AZ at the time, and was told to pick up a car on the outskirts of an Indian reservation. As he approached the owner’s home and walked to the front door, he was met with a shotgun pointed at his face. He promptly left, went back to his boss, and quit on the spot. Not worth it, he said.

    About twenty years ago, a family relative who was temporarily living with us in the Haz home was behind on his car payments, unbeknownst to me. One morning, as I got up to go to work, I found that a repo man had blocked my driveway completely with his tow truck, telling me he would not move until my relative surrendered his car keys to him.

    I own everything I have. No payments to anyone for anything. No repo man ever has any reason to darken my doorway, thankfully. They’re a pain.

    • I Haz a Question,

      A repo-man who blocks your driveway–preventing you from driving away in your car that is not the target of the repossession–seems to be guilty of false imprisonment.

      • The owner of the car not under repo, would then tell the tow driver to move.

        If the tow driver refuses, then you’d have to involve the police.

      • Agreed, but I walked back into the house, kicked my relative out of bed, and told him to take care of the situation ASAP. He handed over the keys and I was on my way to work within 15 minutes.

        But nowadays, being older and wiser, I would have taken my phone out of my pocket, snapped a photo of the tow truck blocking my egress, and called the Sheriff.

    • back about then a good friend of mine made his living doing detail and upholstery work on used cars at brand dealers and iron lots. He was struggling to feed his growing family. One of the iron lot guys asked him he’d like to pick up some extra cash once in a while, and he said “talk to me”. The independent dealers would often carry the paper on cars they sold. They would ALWAYS make a set of extra keys which would remain at the dealer until the last payment was made and the change on the title finalised. No tow trucks needed. He’d pay a hefty chunk after a deadbeat’s car was recovered and returned to the lot. Locked up in the shop, or course…. One time Jack had been asked to fetch a certain car.Got the keys,maddress, etc. Found the car parked in an open lot downtown, parked his own a couple blocks away, walked back and was in the process of unlocking the car door with his set of keys. Broad daylight three in the afternoon, he turned his head when he heard the window in an upstairs apartment slide open quickly, that sound followed by a heavy metallic KERCHUNK and soon enough understood he was looking UP the large bore of a shotgun. He raised his hands, still holding the key, said OK, I am leaving…. went back to the iron lot and turned in those keys and said I’m not doing this any more. He was visualising a widowed mom and four orphaned kids, and that just did not fit well with HIS version of the future.
      Had that been me I’d have called the coppers and reported the brandishing and threat, then waited till the Boyzin Blue arrived to take the man downtown for “questioning”. Once they had left then just hop in the now unguarded car and drive it back to Jake’s lot……

  9. Don’t know FL law on this. In Al if someone tries to prevent a repo the agent is supposed to leave to avoid confrontation and can then get a court order and return with police. The repo agent can if confrontation is likely ask the local police or sheriff’s dept. to provide an escort/assist to secure the property. Same as getting the local LEO to evict a home buyer on a mortgage default.
    There are 2 morals to this story. First being to not get into an avoidable altercation. Being right doesn’t mean much if your injured or killed. Second is there are never a shortage of dumbasses making dumb choices. The fool who decided to shoot now will have a whole new set of problems beyond the loss of a vehicle or hit to his credit score.

  10. It’s called azzhat VS azzhat. All of that drama and energy would have been better spent if the vehicle owner got a job or second job flipping burgers, etc. and cut his expenses to afford the car or he could have sold it take up payments, etc. Now the azzhats are nothing more than grease for a hospital and the wheels of the criminal justice system.

    • The rest of us have to foot the bill for their sorry butts. We will have to pay for the incarceration of the shooter with our tax dollars and the medical bills of the repo man (either via taxes or higher insurance premiums for everyone).

  11. The fact that the repo man is legally doing his job negates the idiot in the way. Technically the idiot in the way is attempting to conceal or block private property that is no longer his. We as a society have DEvolved into a litigious bunch of pansies. Everyone is sue happy. I see this the same as I see protestors blocking a road. Get out of the way or get hit. Simple choice.
    Oh and, if he paid his bills he wouldn’t be about to go to court for assault with a deadly weapon and potentially attempted murder. Bet he wishes he’d have paid that couple grand now, instead he’ll spend years in prison after spending all he has on attorney’s. Ultimately, the guy in the wrong gets screwed 1000x harder for his idiocy.

    • I don’t know the particularities of Florida repo laws, but would think the location of the vehicle would make a difference.

      If the vehicle was in the roadway, your assessment would be correct. The fact that the car was in his driveway, on his property probably makes a legal difference. The repo man seems to be committing trespass if the homeowner asks him to leave. The man may not own the car, but does own the land. Then, the repo man uses his vehicle to batter the shooter.

      The shooter is obviously to blame, and will go to prison, but the repo man also seems to have broke several laws.

      The shooter should have lived within his means. He is in his 50s, and should act like a grown up.

      • Re: 11:35 – Good comments.

        It’s not worth someone’s life to repo a vehicle. The “owner” (bank/etc), is ‘gonna get it back eventually. If it’s not by the repo man now, it will be later via replevin and an LEO will also be there at the time of seizure.

        Several years ago in this area, a repo man went into an unlocked garage, put up the door, hooked up a car and off he drove. The repo company ended up being on the hook for the unlawful entry and ended up paying out more $ than the car they took cost.

    • Repo “man” is NOT doing his job if he intentionally strikes a person with a part of his vehicle. He’s committing a violent felony.

  12. If you can not afford the loan payment on your vehicle wreck it.
    Or have your brother steal it, take the fancy tires and rims off then set fire to it.

    • “…set fire to it.”

      I know a guy who did this. The suspicious car fire made the sheriff take a closer look at the guy’s recent house fire, and he ended up doing 3 years. Gotta be judicious in your application of heat.

      • The quail hunt was a bust. I got to thinking how they got coyotes, coons, feral cats, hawks, snakes, skunks, rats and everything else after them and I just couldn’t do no shutin. Sht I even try to let wasp out the door.
        Getting soft 🙂

      • Heh. I worked auto theft cases for a while. One of the basic investigative steps that we took after an auto theft report was to run a financial check on the owner.

        Behind on payments? Red flag. Repossession in process? An even bigger red flag. Vehicle burned after notice of repossession? Why don’t you make my job easier and just admit to it? Insurance fraud is a felony.

        • when b&b towing lost the municipal contract, jerry had his ’65 riv crushed at the bone yard.
          one of the zippiest console interiors ever. hated him from that day, rubbed his daughter in his face for almost a decade.

  13. back in the 90’s I worked with a family friend repo-ing cars. after about 8 weeks said screw it. in 8 weeks I got shot at, spit on, maced and jumped a couple of times. no way I went back into the army again.

  14. guess none of you have had a life changing issue where that once affordable item is not.
    nobody here knows the reasons why the vehicle is being repoed, but saying the gut should have made his payments or got a vehicle he could afford is assine. and makes you look stupid.

    how many people got screwed over with covid shutdown ??
    death in the family ??
    medical issues ??
    employment issues ??

    as the wise ones said, call the lender and try to work it out.

    but saying don’t get this or that makes you the a hole as you have zero knowledge of that person or there life.

    for a few minor things it could be you in that situation.

  15. Some towing companies won’t even do repos because they are just too risky.

    Other tow companies can be just as seedy as the people they are repoing from.

  16. I’m most impressed by the fact that someone under the age of 60 knows about Dale Carnegie’s most famous book.

  17. All these Hillbillies on this forum advocating burning your car must live on a different planet. In my state they repose the car even if it’s burned to a crisp. They then sell the car for pennies on the dollar even it it is to a scrap yard if burned and bill you for the amount of money you still owe. If you cannot pay they attach your wages or put a lien on your house. If you have no house to put a lien on they take away your driver’s license until you pay what you owe. And of course you will probably never be able to get another new reasonable loan on a car unless you pay 10 times the going interest rate on a car loan from a loan shark company.

    The latest scam in my state (which is legal) is that if you walk into a dealership and want to pay cash they laugh in your face and ask you to leave at your own chosen speed. They force you to use their rip off loan company and if you pay the loan off the very next day you pay a huge interest penalty often in the hundreds of dollars. I think they are getting away with this because of the scarcity of new cars for sale and also because they have no competition from other dealers who are also doing the same scam.

    Its a sellers market. The same is true for guns and knives right now. I have seen guns go for $300 or more dollars over list price. You can include high end knives on this list too. Nothings seems to be in stock and when they do have stock it sells off in minutes, not days and at scalpers prices.

    A car you may desperately need but to be ripped off on scalpers prices for guns and knives is just plain stupid and the outrageous prices will last as long as the public is dumb enough to pay these prices.

    • You really do consider yourself to be smarter than all the rest of the citizens.

      Dunning/Krueger at its best.

    • “The latest scam in my state (which is legal) is that if you walk into a dealership and want to pay cash they laugh in your face and ask you to leave at your own chosen speed. They force you to use their rip off loan company and if you pay the loan off the very next day you pay a huge interest penalty often in the hundreds of dollars.”

      I call bullshit. Dealerships aren’t set up to handle large cash transactions — especially since they’d have to fill out a Currency Transaction Report on anything over $5,000 and report it to the gov. The dealer would advise you to go back to your bank and use that cash to purchase a bank draft or cashier’s check which they would gladly and quickly accept for the purchase. Any dealership that wants to sell cars (that’s why they’re in the car-selling business, ya putz) would also be quite willing to accept any financing that you bring to the table.

      However, I freely admit that I am not an expert on how the financial world operates in Capitalvania — or in your tiny smooth brain. But I repeat myself.

  18. Verbal judo….. Jesus Christ…..
    Repetitive much.
    There’s generally two paths in a conflict. Fight it out or walk/run away. You’re seriously gonna have a battle of wits with one of society’s biggest bottom feeders? Can’t speak to this particular case, but vast majority of tow drivers I’ve met in my life appear to have stopped educating and growing as people at about the 5th grade. Good luck!

  19. I suspect every part of this will become more common in many areas.

    We have loans on exactly nothing but still keep everything in the garage or an outbuilding because for several years now the hot “new” crime in Colorado is to steal a tow truck and then go around pretending to be a repo guy, steal between several and several dozen cars and trucks and then dump the tow truck. Work vehicles and common cars are hot targets.

    There’s another version of the same thing targeting machinery.

    The people doing this don’t much seem to care if they basically wreck whatever they steal, which makes me wonder exactly how many chop-shops are being operated in the area, especially for heavy equipment theft.

    Of course, no one ever tries to stop such a thing because they assume it to be a legit repo.

    In fact, it’s a bit of a pastime for a certain breed of jerkoff to spend their time finding videos of thefts people post from their security system and accuse the victims of not paying their bills because it’s “obviously a repo” which, predictably, causes already distressed people to completely flip shit, especially when it’s their paid off work (welding/plumbing/electrical/gen contracting mostly) rig that gets stolen with all their tools on board.

    This is common enough that you can find numerous videos posted each week in a small town-ish area. Which is interesting considering that it requires the intersection of people who have the security system with the theft and the technical capacity to grab and post the video from whatever kind of security system they have along with the thought to post it even though the cops are already *involved* (took a report and won’t do shit about it).

    • We keep our cars in the garage. They’re both paid for. But we’ve had a real rash of catalytic converter thefts. A rash, really.

      • There’s an ointment for that.

        Jokes aside, that’s how this started around here in ’22.

        Balls out brazen too. They’d roll a pickup truck to a parking lot and then two guys hop out while another drives, one guy with a creeper and a sawzall, the other with a floor jack. They’d go down a line of cars in a parking lot and take every cat in the row. Repeat until the bed is piled high and then drive off.

        Started at the hospitals.

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