my car got stolen. from a garage. help.

So I have been parking my car at the same garage for two years now, and paying 360 bucks a month to basically make sure my car won’t get stolen. I live in New York City, where you either park the car on the street or go to a garage and pay through the nose. Now, some people might find this odd, because I drive a twelve year old, slightly beat up BMW and I hardly ever take it out of the city, but really, I’m extremely attached to my car. I’ve had several opportunities to get a shiny new car but have always turned them down, because I. Love. My. Messy. Car.

The last time I drove my car was on January 5th. I drove it to the garage, turned the keys over to the night shift guy, and walked home.

Today, I go to pick up my car. They can’t find it. I searched the building. Threw a hissy fit. Then filed a police report for my stolen car. I can’t fathom why-- in a garage full of brand new, gorgeous, expensive cars-- someone would take mine. The engine rattles! The seatbelts don’t work! It has like a million miles on it!

To add a little more misery to everything, the cops clearly don’t give a damn about investigating the case, even though there’s a set number of people who have access to the elevators that move the cars from level to level. The police just think I should file an insurance claim and settle for the no-doubt paltry amount my car is actually worth, and don’t seem to think they should bother checking who might actually have stolen it. Also, they told me that my insurance rates will go up. Is this true??? How is that possible? I didn’t have an accident. I parked my car in a garage for safekeeping and it got stolen from me. Does anyone know if this really happens?

Apparently I can sue in small claims court for the amount of the car (which is next to zero, though there were papers in the trunk that I’ve had since high school that are worth everything to me) and the three months rent I’ve been paying since I parked the car. Is there anything else I can do?

God, this sucks.

I hate it when the cops don’t give a damn about solving something. I realize its not the Beltway Sniper case, but its a bloody car! Stealing horses used to be a capital offense! They tend to treat it like its shoplifting.

Reminds me of the scene in The Big Lebowski when his car was stolen:

Dude: You guys got any leads?

Cop: (pause) Lemme check with the boys in the crime lab. Y’know, they brought in 3 more detectives on the case this morning. They got us working in shifts! Haha! Leads! Haha!

I don’t know why they stole your 12 yo BMW. But it’s probably the gang that has (twice!) stollen my sisters 13 yo Saturn. Oh, except that you’re across the country.

I’m so sorry this happened to you. Hopefullly you can get some compensation from the garage owners. Good luck!

Are parts for older BMW’s expensive?

Metacom probably has it right. Especially in New York, a 12 yo foreign car might be worth a few grand, but expect many times that from a chop shop. And to generally speculate, since this isn’t GQ, people who work there probably can make quite a nice bonus on the side doing this. As long as it doesn’t happen often and you are dishonest enough to try, why not? Anyway, yea, sorry to hear for your loss.

In NY are there any storage places way outside the city limits since you don’t seem to use a car often? Just a thought if you decide to replace her.

That’s what I’m trying to find out. Whoever took my car sure chose the wrong person to steal from-- I used to be an investigator, I love my car like nobody’s business, and I have heaps of free time.

What gets me crazy is I talked to one of the guys at the garage-- I trust him-- who’s worked there for eight years, and he told me he was basically suspicious of a guy who started working at the garage three weeks ago. He also told me he hadn’t personally seen my car for three weeks.

So basically, I’m very close to knowing who stole my car, and I’m positive there’s someone at the garage who knows exactly what happened, and the police still probably won’t do a thing. I’ll contact them again in the morning but the fact that I’m doing their investigation for them is making me nearly insane. And if the car’s been gone for three weeks, then it’s almost certainly junk by now. The car that was given to me on my sixteenth birthday by my dad that I have loved for twelve years.


No. Actually, BMW reduces its parts prices as the cars get older - a $750 sensor when the car was new may only be $150 when the car is 10 years old.

BMW does this for four reasons:

  1. They still make money on the part when it’s sold for $150. It’s made on fully depreciated tooling using inexperienced labor and is obsolete technology by then.

  2. A very significant part of the BMW mystique is based on the enthusiasm of the owners. It’s easy to keep owners enthusiastic and willing to recommend or buy new cars when the car is solid, great to drive, and the parts are cheap.

  3. The price BMW pays for the rather favorable treatment the German government and the EU give it is their social and environmental responsibility. It’s in the interest of the German government if Hans can get to work in his superannuated 325e. It is generally beneficial to the environment if an old, lightweight, energy-efficient car with some pollution controls isn’t scrapped and replaced with a newer, heavier model.

  4. The $750 price is the cost of the part when it is billed to an outside warranty underwriter. The $150 price is when the part is purchased by the actual user.
    As for your car, buncombe, it’s the garage’s responsibility to keep it safe. Guess what? You’re entitled to the full value of a replacement! Not a new 330i, mind you, but a similar car in reasonable condition. If they balk, tell them that the reason you paid them to keep the car there was specifically so that it wouldn’t be stolen; the price of the garaging should include insurance for the car’s replacement value. I’ll help you find a nice old Bimmer to replace this one.

I’m confused. You say:

and seem to think that’s the wrong thing to do. What exactly do you expect?

If it’s an older car which has been restored, you should have had it appraised, and then insured to appraised value. Other than that, you get the value of the 19XX BMW that it is. That’s also what the garage’s insurance company will tell you, should you file a claim with them - which is what I would suggest you do. Most places like that will have a standard garage policy which will cover customer’s cars while they are in their custody.

It sucks that your car has been stolen. I personally have never heard of someone’s insurance going up for something like that (I was an insurance broker for a million years, but in Canada - it may be different in New York State).

GingerOfTheNorth, what is irritating to me about the police’s actions are that this case is not as easy to overlook as one in which a car is snatched off the street. A set number (seven, actually) of people had access to my car, and there were timesheets which indicate which day my car was last seen, and in the course of my own investigation I’ve found three people who think they know who took my car (they each overheard him saying strange things and asking detailed questions about security). In addition, chop shops in NYC will pay parking lot attendants for the keys to certain cars, often ordering the car in advance (this is stuff I’ve just recently found out) so if that indeed happened, we’re not talking grand theft larceny for the purpose of joyriding, but organized auto crime.

And the police have no interest in pursuing any investigation, and have told me to just get my insurance claim in. Now, I’m doing that, of course, and I’ll hand over any evidence that comes up in the meantime, but it seems moronic to me that the police would take a case like this-- which has such potential to be solved, and fairly easily at that, with the possible payoff of several arrests-- and do nothing because they’re too damn lazy.

Also, for purely emotional reasons, I must add that I just cannot sit on my butt and let someone I trust steal a prized possession from me while I was paying for its safety. That’s what everyone expects me to do and… well, I won’t do it.

Off to pick up the payroll forms from the supervisor at the garage now…

Why not turn your information over to your state’s investigative bureau? (In Kansas it’s the KBI, don’t know what it is where you are.) I’m sure they’d like to get rid of a car theft/chop shop ring. For all you know, this crosses state boundaries too, likely it does. Contact them, and tell them what you know, they might even be able to lean on the local police to “cooperate” and do legwork for them, mightn’t they? It seems to me like it wouldn’t hurt to go to them, to see if they can or will investigate to stop this. Good luck with this.

Not so fast. I am not a New York lawyer, so take this for what it’s worth, but the OP should take a look at his rental agreement before getting too excited about his claim against the garage. Odds are, there’s either a disclaimer or limitation of liability. Even without one, the garage isn’t an absolute insurer of the car. (Yup, since the OP turned over the keys, it’s a bailment, but the bailee need only show due care in states I’m familiar with.)

It’s true that some states won’t enforce certain types of disclaimers, but it’s an issue to look at. Now, if you can prove that a garage employee had something to do with the theft, you should be on solid ground, even with a disclaimer.

IAAL, but not your lawyer. Not licensed in NY. This is general info, and not meant to be reliable legal advice. See a lawyer licensed in NY for that. Good luck to the OP.

So I thought I’d give an update for the people who were kind enough to respond to my plight.

As I mentioned before, I decided that since the police were reluctant to do any legwork, I’d look for my car myself. Did a basic investigation and got the addresses of a couple of guys who had recently been fired from my garage-- one in Queens, and one in Jersey City. Tried interviewing various people at the garage, especially this one kid who I was really suspicious of since he would not make eye contact with me.

Monday night I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to the address in Queens, traveling up and down the blocks around the address in maybe a ten block radius. Nothing.

Last night I borrowed another car from another kind friend who thought I was absolutely insane, and drove to Jersey City. Did the same thing I did Monday night. As I was slowly driving past a line of cars about a block away from the address of the dude who got fired, I noticed a Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker-- just like mine-- and thought, “aww, look how optimistic they used to be!” and then realized that HOLY SHIT I HAD FOUND MY CAR.

So I called the cops. They never showed. I had to run out to a squad car trolling the neighborhood, and then those two simply would not believe that I (a small asian woman) had hunted down my own car. They were completely belligerent and if I hadn’t been accompanied by my lawyer girlfriend (who, by the way, used to work as a public defender), they probably would have harassed me to hell and back. They refused at first to check out the address I gave them, since I only had the address and not a name (the supervisor of the garage had been uncomfortable giving me that much info on former employees), so I had to call the garage and beg one of the attendants to look through old paperwork for the names I needed. Which he did, thank god, while intermittently screeching “DAYUM, GIRL! YOU FOUND IT!”

So the two cops headed over to the address while I waited, pacing and sweaty, near my car. All the time I’m wishing I had a cigarette. So around the corner comes this guy, early twenties, and I walked over to him and asked him if he had a cigarette. He said, politely, “no, miss, I’m sorry,” I thanked him, and he took about two steps away from me when suddenly six plainclothes officers came running out of nowhere and slammed him against a fence. I’m standing there horrified while they tore off his baseball cap, ripped off his doo rag (whipping his head around in the process), the whole time yelling and taunting him, saying “what gang do you belong to? are these gang signs? Don’t fucking lie to us!” Of course, the kid had done nothing wrong and was walking home, so they let him go, but not after being assholes.

So then the two cops show up, walking with this other latino kid who looks about thirteen years old. I’m standing there near my car surrounded by these six plainclothes cops who are basically just staring at me, and one of them is looking me up and down and grinning and licking his lips. Turns out the two uniformed cops had gotten into the apartment and found the little brother of the suspect, along with the keys to my car, which had been sitting in plain sight on a dresser.

So then they did a moronic thing. I used to be an investigator, mind you, and if it had been up to me this is the stupidest, laziest thing they could have done. They had the kid call up his brother, telling him he was to get his brother to come down for a “family emergency.” Of course the kid immediately says “it’s about the BMW” and the cops totally lost it, screaming at him and threatening him, when all along they could have just waited for the brother to come home. Idiots. So now the brother is nowhere to be found.

Just in case you aren’t convinced the police are idiots, they then searched my car. Found a couple of parking tickets which indicated my car has been in the possession of the thief for at least a month. They declare the car clean, wave goodbye, and start walking to their squad car. I get in my car, and lo and behold, find a bag of heroin. In the ashtray. Which is open, and it’s the first thing I see, since it’s BRIGHT PINK. So then I had to call the cops back to collect the evidence.

Still, it was all worth it to see the looks on the faces of the guys at the garage when I drove the car back, parked and locked it (sticking the keys in my pocket) and told them that nobody fucks with my car and gets away with it. Sometimes I wish I were a big tough looking guy because somehow, a tiny asian woman spouting the same line doesn’t quite have such a ring of authority. Ah well.

Now here begins battle number two: convincing the NYPD and the Jersey Police to work together to actually follow through on the case. not to mention fighting the garage for the money I’m owed. Man, this thing is going to suck up my life.

But at least I have my car back. Oh, and glorious day: the thief/thieves actually waxed my car. It’s shiny now!

Congrats on finding your car!
To bad the cops around there are useless jerkoffs.

Happy ending!

Well, I for one am looking forward to the movie. Just hope they don’t have your character going kung-fu on everyone. “You thought you could mess with BMW?! I kick your head!”


Grats on your investigation!

That’s amazing buncombe, congratulations! You have my undying admiration. Apparently sometimes good does triumph over ev… bad. Who’d have thought it…

Well, this is certainly one kick ass story. I feel like going back to Ann Arbor now to find the guys who kept stealing our couch cushions off our porch. Oh, yeah, it’s vigilante time now, baby.

thanks for the kind words, everyone. It’s funny-- our friends kept telling us to give up on the car and just take the insurance, and then were dumbfounded when we actually did find my car. And now they’re stunned that I’m trying to find our more information-- for instance, why did oe guy at the garage swear up and down he saw my car last thursday when it was clearly sitting in Jersey City? The thieves had left our EZ Pass on it, and there’s no way to drive from Jersey City back into NYC without EZ Pass sensors reading my car… You can’t even go through the cash-only lanes, because every lane into the city is EZ Pass equipped. And we have no charges on the EZ Pass bill. Yet some guy at the garage told an elaborate story about how he is positive he saw my car on Thursday because he had to move it mistakenly and then move it back to its spot in the back of the garage. So I’m pretty sure that this guy was working with the thieves who originally stole my car-- but why? Were they paying him? Were they giving him the money obtained from selling off everything of value inside the car? But if they were so organized, why leave the plates on it, along with all the bumper stickers, and park it so near their home? Weird, just weird.

Just talked to the NYPD to let them know that a suspect’s been picked up-- the younger brother-- and they completely bitched me out for handling the case myself.
Yelled at me that it’s not their job, it’s the job of the Jersey PD since it was found in Jersey City. When I pointed out that the actual crime had been committed in NYC they got even angrier. I don’t get it at all. Do they feel emasculated? My girlfriend and I basically solved the case and handed them the evidence for an easy prosecution. Stolen car! Drugs! Possible collaboration with other employees! Names! Addresses! Witnesses who are willing to testify! My lord.

Anyway. Back to the case! But first I’ve got to attend to my graduate school classes. Oh well. I got my car back!

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with how you did the legwork to find your stolen car. It’s absolutely incredible. When my car got stolen, the SFPD told me that I’ll probably get it back in a few weeks; if not, forget it. They’re right; I never saw the car again. Like your car, my car was not new, but I had an emotional attachement since it was my first car. I kept it looking spanking new, and in fact, just had a new paint job and some muffler work done. So it was parked outside my house looking good with a new tailpipe and all. For months, I would scour the neighborhood for my car, but to no avail. I always suspected someone at one of the auto shops that did all the recent work on my car, but didn’t have the wherewithall to follow through like you. Bravo to you.

This is the COOLEST story!!! Wow!! :cool: