Free Break-In and Giant Dump With Your Heights Car Repair

Categories: Crime

harting.jpg
Photo by Mandy Oaklander
Bobby Harting is sick of being burglarized and ignored.
Last week, Chris Lawless dropped his car off at Tech Auto Maintenance in the Heights for a repair. He stopped by the next day to find it fixed but picked clean of loose change, hundreds of CDs and his limited-edition Public Enemy hat.

At first Lawless suspected the mechanics had stolen his stuff. But Bobby Harting, owner of Tech Auto Maintenance, wasn't surprised to hear what had happened. After 30 or so similar break-ins over the past four years, he knew immediately who did it.

The same anonymous guy has been starring in Tech Auto's surveillance videos ever since the protracted rash of burglaries began. The man, who Harting describes as a "skinny, light-skinned black or Hispanic," jumps the fence, busts open the windows of locked cars and scavenges for change and valuables.

Harting now goes through each car before leaving it overnight and removes computers, guns and iPods for safekeeping inside his office. He also no longer locks the cars. "If we lock the cars out here, he'll break windows out of the cars and find there's nothing in them. So we don't lock them and he just goes through and steals change," Harting said. "One time he took a shit in one of them."

The company has put up cameras, an electric fence and has even resorted to guard dogs. That didn't last long. "He beat the dog's head with a pipe," Harting said.

But even with a slew of evidence, including a full-length motion picture's worth of surveillance tapes, the thief's discarded crack pipe and fingerprints left on the cars, he hasn't been caught. Neither has the second man captured on tape who has since joined in the thieving fun.

Harting doesn't think police are even trying. "All they say is, 'Well, we'll keep an eye out,'" he said. "They do nothing."

Last month, Harting said the office was burgled by the same guy. "Once he got in there, the alarm went off for 22 minutes," Harting said. Police showed up just as Harting did, he said, 30 minutes later. The nearest police station is about a five-minute drive away. "I was like, 'Why are you just now showing up?' They said, 'Well, we were busy on response.'"

Harting blames what he calls police indifference on money. "Giving out tickets generates revenue," he said. "Catching a thief doesn't make them any money."

HPD Public Information Officer Victor Senties pulled up four pages of police calls to the address since 2007, ranging from burglary of a motor vehicle to reporting a suspicious person. "Every report that's taken is looked into, and everything is taken seriously," he said.

Harting doesn't warn customers about the burglar since he comes so sporadically, he said. Break-ins can happen five times in a short span of time, and then disappear for months.

Meanwhile, theft victim Chris Lawless isn't happy. Harting offered to break even with him after the cost of repair, but Lawless wanted more than just being directed to a "We are not responsible for theft" sign.

"He's got a recurring problem," Lawless said. "He didn't give me any warning...and he didn't want to scare the customers. I understand that, but he needs to do more than he's doing."

Lawless added to HPD's collection of police reports for 37 Waugh -- not that he thinks it'll help. Instead, he's keeping an eye out for a guy wearing an über-rare Public Enemy hat. "I'm no Columbo, but that's the way I'm breaking the case," he said.

tech auto maintenance.jpg
Photo by Mandy Oaklander



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16 comments
Monica Cisneros
Monica Cisneros

Thanks for spending time for sharing this informative article, it was excellent and incredibly informative.

Kuei
Kuei

Did the company bother telling customers about this beforehand? 

Derekmich07
Derekmich07

Hahahaha

It's Tyrone Biggums from Dave Chapelle Show

Priscilla
Priscilla

Why would someone leave a hat (that apparently is very important to him) and over 100 cd's in a car that's being worked on overnight? And then blame the owner when his crap is stolen? It's your responsibility Chris to look after your own things and if you are too lazy to take the crap out of your car than that's a risk you took, stop blaming and realize no one was hired to protect your personal belongings and if this stuff was so important to you than you should have removed it, sounds like you have a storage room on wheels.

Rankmymechanic
Rankmymechanic

Find any type of mechanic in your area. Boat mechanic, auto mechanic,motorcycle mechanic and big rig mechanic. Also find specialty mechanics. Repair,Auto body, smog stations, transmission services, auto detailing, auto/boatupholstery, auto racing, auto air conditioning, auto alignment, auto glassservices, oil and lube services and much more. All of this at www.rankmymechanic.com

Good2bwicked
Good2bwicked

This is a right at the corner of Heights and Washington where the clown HPD cops sit and pull over car after car trying to bust people for DUI on Washington coming from the clubs, but they can never be bothered to show up for assault or break ins. The HPD has been on a downhill slope for years of apathetic leadership and poor results.

Mr. Blonde
Mr. Blonde

HPD will never show up at a crime scene until plenty of time has passed for the criminals to leave.  The worse the crime reported, the longer they take to arrive.  Unless the victim is also HPD, in which case they will arrive in a normal amount of time.

Wyatt
Wyatt

I have no idea what it's like to be a cop, but if this were my patrol area, I think I would care less about revenue and more about the fact that this guy gets away with this shit under my nose. I mean, breaking into cars is one thing, but beating up dogs? Come on.

Where's your sense of honor, HPD?

Been watching a lot of Game of Thrones recently. But I'm being serious.

squinney
squinney

Pay someone to sit over night in the office with a gun.

Smokeyampm
Smokeyampm

everyone knows HPD can not and will not catch a thief.  it's really hard to work when you have a doughnut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. 

Pinemontgo
Pinemontgo

Instead of posting the car owners pic ! POST THE THEIFS PIC ! STUPID TAX REVENUE COPS ARE WORTHLESS !

drlover
drlover

Did you bother to read the article?

Gwinn23
Gwinn23

yep, a good ol' Bubba sitting in the dark with a 12guage is pretty much guaranteed to get the point across.

MadMac
MadMac

Or patrolling for sex, or selling stolen property, or dealing drugs, or...

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