Repossessions: From Law Enforcement’s View
At least once a week we get a call from a lienholder asking the same question:
At least once a week we get a call from a lienholder asking the same question: my customer is hiding my car from me, why won't the police help me? My initial thought is, welcome to BHPH. But last week, I put the same question to a retired law enforcement officer who happens to be a friend of mine.
Once a customer has defaulted on a retail instalment contract, the Uniform Commercial Code or Texas Business and Commerce Code allows for a lienholder with a secured interest to collect the collateral so long as they can do it peacefully. Most debtors are well aware of this law and when a debtor falls behind on their payments, they may start securing the vehicle in a way that the lienholder cannot easily have access to said vehicle.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could simply pick up the phone, have law enforcement meet you at the debtor's house and allow you to collect your collateral--isn't that what the law allows?
"No," so says my contact from the law enforcement community. “When we are called to a situation like that, it's always he said she said, and we just can't be the judge on that sort of stuff. Unless someone is clearly in danger, we really can't take any action until it's resolved in the courts.” He went on to tell me, this is more like a breach of contract between the lienholder and customer. He laughed and added, the last thing you want is to have us out their settling contractual disputes. He also pointed out that when the cops are called it's never over a “peaceful” dispute.
There is a remedy though, through the courts. A lienholder, with the appropriate lien and evidence may obtain an order from the courts that will allow law enforcement to pick the vehicle up and hold it until the court decides who the rightful owner is.
For a more legal explanation, see "What To Do When Peaceable Repossession Is Not Possible" (This article is taken from Texas Automobile Repossession: A Lien Holder's Legal Guide, with the permission of the author. The book is available from TIADA.)