If I own a body shop, what is my liability if a car was stolen off of the property?

Last night a vehicle was stolen from our property (it was inside the building). The vehicle was not running, just a shell with no motor. The thieves cut the fence, picked a lock to get inside the building, then had to tow the car out. I filed a police report already. Am I liable for the car? I have insurance but only for the building (liability), so i doubt the insurance will cover. The owner of the vehicle also has no insurance on it (because it was not running). I am very worried about this. Just want to know if I will be held liable? It was currently under repair and I have already been given payments for the work done to this

Asked on October 12, 2014 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, you are most likely not  liable. As a general matter, a business is not liable for the criminal acts of unrelated third parties unless the business didn't provide reasonable security--i.e. was negligent, or careless, with regard to the risk of theft or other crime. You had the vehicle--which could not move under its own power--in a locked building, with a fence around it; to steal it, the thieves cut a hole in your fence, picked a lock, and towed the husk. It does not seem like you did anything unreasonably careless in regards to the security, and so should not be liable for the theft--though you'd have to return any money for any work not yet done or parts not yet special ordered (since you can't perform the work now that the car is gone).

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