Should I report my car as being stolen to the police if my mechanic has my car and I can’t get it back?

I recently had a car that I had purchased from an auction break down due to the oil pump going bad. I had my personal mechanic tow the vehicle back to his place after he assessed the damage and gave me a price quote of $1,130. I paid him this money to perform an engine rebuild and other repairs. He has had the car over a month and has made little to no progress and has recently stopped answering his phone. I had already paid him the amount in full and have been waiting for the car to be finished with repairs, but he keeps making excuses on the rare occasions that I ask if the car is ready based off of the different dates he has given me. I don’t have anything in writing showing the amount paid, he says he has receipts from the machinist shop that he had to take the engine to, as well as the receipts for the other parts, but has not surrendered them to me. All I have are text messages between he and I.

Asked on July 22, 2017 under Business Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, so far, based on what you write, this is not a criminal issue; it is a civil dispute, based on a disagreement about what has been done, what needs to be done, what should be paid, etc. The police will not help you in this case, where you voluntarily give the car to the mechanic to hold and work on in the first place. You should file a lawsuit against the mechanic seeking a court order requiring him to return the car to you; in that lawsuit, you can also seek compensation, such as the return of any money paid for work which has not been done, or for how long the car has been withheld from you. The clerk's office of the county courthouse or the court's "customer service" office can give you forms and instructions about the kind of legal action you need to file. You can file one seeking also what is commonly called an "order to show cause," which will get you into court quickly on this action; against the clerk's office can explain how to do that. Good luck.

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