Kermit Mechanic Shop Under Scrutiny, Car Owner and Mechanic Speak Out 3/01/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
March 1, 2013
Imagine dropping your car off at a mechanic for repairs on the outside, months later you open it up and it's trashed on the inside.
For one Kermit woman, it was a reality.
"It's trashed,” said the owner of a vehicle left for repair at Harper’s Heavy Equipment and Automotive in Kermit. “The whole dash is taken completely out, he’s got stuff thrown all over the Suburban.”
It was supposed to just be the rear end. Months later and the car is back--with parts thrown inside, the dashboard and ignition ripped apart.
She says Casey Harper of now-closed Harper’s automotive repair shop did the work and held the car for months.
"He called me and told me it was ready, he kept saying it. He just finally quit answering his phone,” said the car owner.
She’s not the only one who claims they were taken advantage of--Sheriff Keely heard rumors and took action.
He wrote a column in the paper, reaching out to victims of mechanic shops--without naming any one in particular.
"He would tell people he had a mechanics lien, but he didn’t have anybody sign any,” said Sheriff George Keely of Winkler County.
It took a police escort and a wrecker truck to get this vehicle and others out of the shop.
The owner said she never signed any paperwork.
We crossed state lines to catch up with Harper at his new shop in Jal, New Mexico.
We asked him if every customer signs paperwork when they drop off cars.
"99.9 percent of the time,” Casey Harper, owner of Harper’s Heavy Equipment and Automotive said. He said he knew of at least one instance in which paperwork was not signed, but could not confirm others. “Paperwork was filled out, but it was never signed by the owner.”
So what happened to this car?
"The dash was taken apart. We did that. We took that apart,” Harper said, alleging that the ignition was removed because the owner took the vehicle’s keys from his shop without paying.
Harper says he moved his shop out of state because he felt he is being bullied by authorities.
“Am I running from the problem? No. I’ll be back for the court dates,” Harper said. “But I still got to feed my family.”
Criminal litigation is pending and the first civil case goes to court in Winkler County next week.