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Car Repossessions in Garages, Gated Communities or Gated Areas

A repossessor sometimes completes a repossession by following a car into a gated area or gated community (sometimes referred to as “piggybacking”), or the repossessor drives in when someone exits the gate. Both situations amount to a breach of the peace and are unlawful. California statutory law and caselaw define a breach of the peace to include any unlawful entry into a secured area, without permission. Moreover, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services — the division of California’s Department of Consumer Affairs overseeing repossession agencies — has issued public citations and fines against repossession companies for completing repossessions by piggybacking or driving through the exit gate of a secured garage area as another vehicle exited the garage.

What can you do if you suspect a repossessor unlawfully entered a gated area or gated community? Here’s some steps you can take:

  1. If there are video cameras focused on the entry, secure the video recordings. If all you can do is record the video recordings, be sure to state the date and time of your recording, and the date and time of what you are recording.
  2. If you are comfortable doing so, speak with other residents to determine if anyone witnessed the repossessor entering the gate, or anyone had contact with a repossessor inside the gated area.
  3. Take photographs of the entry and video of its operation at or near the time in question.
  4. If applicable, speak with your landlord or management company. Ensure that the gate was operational and permission was not granted to any repossession company to enter the secured area.
  5. File a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs. This should compel a response from the repossession company as to how they supposedly entered the gated area.
  6. Speak with a qualified consumer attorney who can assist you in possibly filing a civil suit against the repossession company.