Can I sue the auto repair store for things stolen out of my car?

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Can I sue the auto repair store for things stolen out of my car?

Last week, I had my car towed to a discount auto care store to put a new starter on. Which they did, but then another issue arose my electronic control module went bad and he had to order the part. Replacing the starter and tow bill came up to $350. I paid $500 because he said that the ECM would cost an additional $375 which I did not have to they were going to finance the balance. While waiting on the part to come in, they parked my car on the lot with windows down and the battery removed thus making the alarm inoperable. Today I went to the shop and checked the car out and noticed that my glove compartment was open the contents scattered, my center console was open and items removed and my phone gone along with my cash. The center console had a key lock on it but it was broken. I asked the mechanic if he had seen anybody in the car he said he would check the cameras and get back to me. I have not heard anything at all. Is he liable for the theft of my merchandise while my car sat on his lot for repair?

Asked on June 8, 2017 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Normally, someone--including a repair shop or a store--is not liable for the criminal acts of other people, since they are not responsible for or caused other people to break the law; that lack of causality or responsibility precludes liability. Here, because it was arguably unreasonable careless (negligent) to leave the car parked where it was accessible with the windows down and alarm disabled, you *may* be able to overcome that usual state of affairs and win, by proving that their negligence contributed to the theft or enabled it. So given the usual rule, you are guaranteed to win, but you appear to at least have a plausible case and could reasonable try suing them.


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