Borrowers facing repossession have the option of contacting the police to have an officer on hand when it’s time to surrender their vehicle. But can police assist with the car repossession? Read on to learn more about the role of law enforcement in the process of repossessing a car, truck, motorcycle, RV or boat.
Can police assist with car repossession?
When the borrower defaults on the terms of a loan agreement, the lender has the right to repossess the vehicle. I most states, after the lender has given an order to the repo agent to take the vehicle, the repo company is required to inform the local police department of their intent to repossess.
It’s never a good day when the repo agent comes to take the vehicle. These situations are stressful and can get heated between the repo agent and the borrower. This is when the police may be called to the scene.
Keep the Peace
No matter who calls the police – the borrower or the repo agent – the officers who respond to the repossession are there to keep the peace and make sure that everyone is safe from harm.
Breach the Peace
The police can’t order the borrower to turn over the keys, “step aside” while the repo agent takes the car, or threaten arrest. By assisting in the repossession, the police may have crossed the line from keeping the peace to breaching the peace, which could be a violation of the borrower’s constitutional rights.
Protecting your rights during repossession
Repo agents must follow rules too. They can not threaten you, use physical force or enter your property – including your garage – without your consent.
If you think the repo agent has violated your rights, document the events by including:
- A written statement that lists the date and time of the repossession, the name of the repo agent and company, and a chronological description of the events.
- Photograph or Video the scene. Be sure to include the repo agent’s truck and license plate and interaction between the borrower, repo agent, police and witnesses.
- Photograph your car to document its condition, including the interior & exterior, plus odometer reading.
- Photograph any property damage, such as broken doors or fences, damage to the lawn or other vehicles.
- Get statements from any witnesses, including their name, contact information and recall of the event.
- Get a copy of the police report
Whether you had fallen behind on payments or not, the law protects you from abusive repossession tactics. You may be able to bring a lawsuit against the repo agent, police department or your lender.
Seek Legal Help
Do you think the police, repo agent or your lender mishandled the repossession of your vehicle?