I-TEAM: Car owner, management at odds over responsibility after car stolen from dealership lot – WAFB

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – A woman left her car at a dealership back in January, hoping to get it repaired but thieves had other plans and stole the car right off the lot in the middle of the night. Management at the dealership and the customer are now at odds over who should be responsible for replacing the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro.

Surveillance video obtained by the WAFB I-TEAM shows it was a fine-tuned smash-and-grab as the thieves raced onto the Royal Buick dealership parking lot on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge. The theft happened around 3:00 a.m. on February 2, 2024. The video shows one of the thieves pulling right up to the woman’s car, while another thief smashes the window out of the car and then the two of them drive off. The whole ordeal played out in less than a minute.

The car that was boosted from the lot belongs to Kissley Booker. She and her husband left the car for repairs at the dealership just days before it was taken.

“We were told it was a 24-hour turnaround time and I needed the car for the first day of February,” said Booker.

Booker says she dropped the car off on January 29, 2024, for what she considered to be routine repairs. An invoice shows where the couple complained about vibration on the highway, problems with the windshield wipers, and that the car was having a hard time starting. Booker says they got these same repairs done at the same dealership in the past and it only took a day. This time, it took longer because she said things were backed up. Now, she believes the extra time the dealership staff took to fix the car left it vulnerable on the dealership lot. To make matters worse, she says she did not even hear from the dealership until after an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy reached out first, telling her and her husband that the car was gone.

”We did not hear anything from the dealership until, well, after we heard from the sheriff’s office on Friday, February 2, 2024, when our car was stolen.”

She says deputies told her the car’s GPS was pinged in Metairie before it disappeared for good. Booker recently started a new job and she says the theft has put strain on her employment.

”I have been tardy and absent because of a lack of a vehicle or trying to share a vehicle with my husband,” said Booker.

When Booker and her husband went to the dealership to find out how they would make it right, she says things did not go as planned when they spoke with the general manager.

”When asked to do the right thing he said, ‘well what’s the right thing? I’m going to give you $1,000 for a rental. File it on your insurance and in 14 days, everything should be fine’.”

Booker believes she should not have to go through her insurance and she says it should be on the dealership to make her whole.

”My insurance rates could increase,” said Booker. “Louisiana is known for high car insurance rates. Why would I want to put this on my insurance when I am not responsible? You are responsible for my vehicle because it was under your care.”WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Booker what it would take for the dealership to make things right.

“I just want them to my car paid off at this point,” said Booker.

When the WAFB I-TEAM reached out to the dealership, the general manager said he did what he thought was necessary in the situation and that the dealership is not liable for what happened. He sent WAFB a work order with a highlighted section that shows where customers acknowledge that the dealership is not responsible for theft or damages when they drop off their vehicle.

While he says booker electronically signed the paperwork, the copy of the work order he sent show that the customer signature line is blank. When asked about the missing signature, the general manager said they did not actually need the customer’s signature for this paperwork to be valid. When asked for an on-camera interview about the matter, the general manager said they do not do interviews.

Booker says she is not surprised because she claims the dealership has gone silent as they have tried to work toward some sort of resolution.

”I’m really hurt,” said Booker. “I feel it’s just about doing the right thing.”

The owner of the car has gotten an attorney involved and they are currently weighing their legal options.

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