The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 8, 2013

Repo by forklift goes awry but there’s happy ending

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — An attempt to repossess a vehicle with a forklift Tuesday night wound up slightly injuring one man when the owner discovered the plan and drove his SUV directly off the forklift’s arms, according to the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office.

But after a few scary moments, when repo agents squared off with the angry owner and his pals, the issue was resolved amicably, deputies said.

The incident began around 8:30 p.m., when deputies were dispatched to Richmond Trailer Sales on North Ridge West in Geneva Township, A repossession agent recognized a vehicle on his must-snag list at the business. He and a fellow agent were preparing to use a forklift to claim the vehicle and haul it away when the owner came out of a nearby house, deputies said. The owner climbed into the vehicle, started it, backed it off the machine’s forks and sped away, according to a report.

During the getaway, the vehicle’s side mirror struck one of the repo men, knocking him to the ground, deputies said. Firefighters and Northwest Ambulance District technicians treated the man at the scene, according to a report.

Minutes later, as a deputy was interviewing the repo men, the owner returned to the scene in a truck — accompanied by two friends. When the deputy asked about the vehicle, the owner said it was hidden and he wouldn’t reveal its whereabouts. The incident escalated when one of the man’s friends angrily joined the debate and became belligerent, deputies said.

Things calmed down when a deputy was able to separate the vocal man from the rest of the group and also threatened to arrest the owner. Eventually, the owner took the repo men to where the vehicle was hidden and told a deputy he would discuss his loan situation with his loan officer.