Thursday, September 18, 2008

Police Beat (Car Story Grande Finale)

Sometime during the month of November, we received a phone call from Mr. Wooly, the owner of the upscale used car dealership where Dave had purchased our mint green Jag with beige leather interior. I did not keep track of exact dates because to be honest, I was not taking anything to do with our automobiles seriously. I have left such matters up to Dave as long as he assures me we could pay with cash and still pay for Kaley's college.

"Hi, Janet. This is Mr. Wooly. Have you received anything from the DOL about the Jaguar?"

"Well, yes. We have the title. What is the problem?" I inquired with more than a little curiosity.

Mr. Wooly proceeded to explain to me with great nervousness that we may be receiving a letter indicating a problem with the title. We were to let him know when we received the letter and to inform him of the contents. Mr. Wooly told me not to worry because he had his attorney looking at the matter. He continued to explain that the Jaguar had belonged to a woman in Palm Desert, CA who was going through a messy divorce. The husband did not take kindly to the fact that she sold the green Jaguar because he wanted it. Frankly, I kind of laughed it off and thought it was interesting that our new car came from Palm Desert where we had recently spent a wonderful long weekend. We had paid for the vehicle, bought it in good faith and we had received legal Washington title. As an attorney, I know a lot about car accidents and personal injury but when it comes to contracts and sales---well, that was my worst subject and grade in law school. I wasn't worried.

I checked our mail carefully each day and NEVER did we receive a letter indicating any problem with the Jaguar. Evidently, this attractive middle aged couple in California had not been married long, I found out later. Also, it appeared as though the wife was the one with the money and perhaps the husband had married her for that reason. The Jag was not the only vehicle she sold. They also had an expensive Porsche and a hybrid and the husband was trying desperately to get them all back.

We bought the Jag in May and received clear title in June. The CA husband knew his wife had sold the vehicle and he knew it had been sold to Mr. Wooly. He also knew the car had been sold in good faith to us. He tried to get our name from the state and they declined but somehow he managed to eventually find us. Now understand, we had no information other than our title and a phone call from the dealer warning of a possible issue. We were innocent buyers but yet the husband decided to report the mint green Jaguar as stolen---knowing it had been sold in good faith.

The CA husband contacted the Mukilteo Police as did the attorney for Mr. Wooly. A Mukilteo Police detective called Dave and informed him the car had been reported as stolen. He believed the matter was a civil matter and that the husband should go after the wife for the value of the car since it had been sold. The detective advised us not to drive the car. He said the Mukilteo Police would not stop us around Mukilteo but if Dave was driving into Seattle, he could be stopped and handcuffed and hauled off to jail for possession of a stolen vehicle.

There we were with our new car that we could not drive. Readers of the blog know that during this time, our house was being remodeled. Embarrassing to me was that I had to explain to the contractors that they would have to work around the Jaguar in the garage because it was reported stolen and we could not drive it. I tried to explain and luckily, my dear contractor understood because of key words, "divorce, California, nutty couple."

What happened next was unforgivable! Well, almost unforgivable. Now that I am sick and am working on holding no grudges, I have forgiven the California husband. I think the situation is pathetic and sad. One evening, on January 7th, 2008, the night before my 55th birthday, we had finished a nice dinner with our lovely daughter who was on winter break. I noticed a bunch of lights outside our window. Half in jest I remarked, "Ah, Dave, ah....I think some nice people are here to take away the Jaguar. I see a tow truck!"

"What the *&^%?" The door bell rang and two Mukilteo police officers were at our door. Out in our front yard stood a very large and scary repo man who belonged to the tow truck. The police asked if we had a green Jaguar and we said yes. I then went and grabbed our title. Dave told them they were not taking the vehicle because we had purchased it in good faith and had Washington title. Dave also explained he had talked to their boss, the Mukilteo detective who had told us this was a civil matter and they wouldn't get involved other than to inform California they had located the vehicle and it was not stolen. The night shift Mukilteo Police did not seem to know this information and immediately changed their tune to being protective of law abiding Mukilteo citizens---us. The officers went into the yard and spent quite some time trying to calm the large repo man. I offered them our son's 1987 Jeep as a replacement. Nobody thought my offer was particularly funny except for me.

The next day was my birthday. Lucas was flying in from France and we had a celebratory dinner planned at Canlis for the four of us, Seattle's fanciest restaurant. Needless to say, our plan was to arrive in high style in our mint green Jaguar. They have a really cool valet system. Ah, but it was not to be so we drove up in our Honda Pilot instead. Oh well. The dinner was fabulous anyway and we had plenty to talk about explaining repo man to Lucas. Lucas, of course, listened with great enjoyment to the sticky mess his ridiculous parents somehow managed to get mixed up in.

Shortly afterwards, we received a personal visit from the Mukilteo detective who reiterated they were on our side. The detective checked out the Jaguar's VIN and informed me he had given California the whereabouts of the car. Again, he told us to keep the car in the garage and not drive it. He did not know what was up with this California man who was causing us this trouble but thought the repo man would be keeping a watch on our house. I was outraged. What if my daughter had been home alone that night? What if they had broken into our garage with her here? She would have been terrified.

A week later, the whole incident appeared in our Mukilteo Beacon Police Beat front and center. Though no names were used, our address was prominent and every one we knew knew this was about us:

January 16, 2008 Mukilteo Beacon Police Beat

A driver advised that he was with a recovery service and was at the location to impound a stolen green Jaguar that might be at the location and wanted officers to assist in the impound. The officers spoke with the reporting party who said the Jaguar was not in the driveway and wanted assistance getting into the garage to look for the Jaguar. The officers spoke with the homeowner, who told the officers that the car was in the garage and he would not release the vehicle. He further said that he bought the vehicle over six months ago from a dealership and showed the officers he was in possession of the title with his name on it (again title issued 6/22/07 and the theft was reported on 1/03/08). The reporting party wanted the homeowner charged with possession of stolen property but the officer explained to the party that the homeowner appeared to be the owner of the vehicle and (even if the car turned out to be stolen) could not possibly knowingly possess stolen property he thought was his. Homeowner advised that the dealership's attorneys were in the process of charging the person that filed the stolen report with false reporting [the California husband]. The reporting party [big scary repo man with large mustache] left the location without the vehicle but said if he found the vehicle in the driveway that HE WOULD TAKE IT. [emphasis mine]

Not long after this, the California husband contacted me by phone. He explained he had googled us and discovered Dave was a reknowned scientist. He stated he was a scientist and doctor as well. Then he proceeded to try and charm me out of the car. He tried to apologize for the repo incident. I was not very receptive. However, I was beginning to understand how this woman had perhaps ended up being married to him. He gave me the sob story of the messy marriage and divorce. I let him talk. He tried to bad mouth Mr. Wooly and the dealership. Frankly, Mr Wooly and his attorney have been nothing but wonderful and accommodating to us. They allowed Dave to drive another vehicle off of their lot until all of this was resolved. Of course, their reputation was a stake if we decided to go to the press or make a big stink so they needed to take good care of us and they have.

California husband gave me the creeps so I decided to google him in return and discovered we were a side issue to a major soap opera which continues to this day. Evidently, he had drug issues and had his plastic surgeon license to practice medicine revoked. I gather he does not have much money of his own and was desperately trying to get back property his wife had disposed of. Furthermore, he has brought bigamy charges against the wife because he discovered she failed to obtain a divorce before quickly marrying him. Her defense is that the divorce was obtained in Mexico and she thought it was valid. This whole trial is still pending. Ok, so we did NOT want to be even a little bit involved in this crazy crazy California mess. This was just too much for this Mukilteo couple who just wanted to have a nice used car to enjoy in our aging lives.

Mr. Wooly and his attorney tried to convince us to be patient. We were named (not as a party) in the lawsuit they had filed against CA hubby because our civil rights had been severely violated by the scary repo man----and it was done under false pretenses. CA hubby kept contacting me explaining he was entitled to our car and he would get it back. We wanted out of this thing and to not be entangled in a messy situation. I contacted the Washington State Licensing and asked them how we could give the car back. They were very helpful and knew all about the circumstances. They never stated they had sent us a letter.

Mr. Wooly understood and allowed us to return the pretty mint green Jaguar. We exchanged it for a smaller Lapis blue Jag with fewer miles. The car is cute though not as pretty as the green one. But, the mileage is better and it has heated seats and a sun roof. We are very happy with it. This all happened in March and so far so good. Hopefully, this car isn't a part of another messy California divorce! We also found out that the lawsuit filed by Mr. Wooly's attorney determined that CA hubby's remedy was to go after his wife for the value of the car especially since it had been sold. The stolen tag was ordered to be removed. Who knows if appeals are taking place. I suspect so. We informed the California husband to no longer contact us. He has complied with our request.

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And that's the story of how Dave almost got arrested and how we made the Police Beat through no fault of our own. This does make me wonder how many upscale used cars for sale are the result of messy divorces all over the country---or maybe just in California!