Should I call a lawyer or his mother?
August 15, 2007 2:29 PM   Subscribe

My recovered stolen scooter is trashed. What can I do?

I've dreamed of having a zippy little scooter for twenty years. Last April I finally bought one, the first BRAND NEW thing I've ever owned! Hooray! Tootling around town on my brand new scooter was the most fun I'd ever had...until it was stolen last week. ( I was actually out of town, left the scooter in the care of my dear husband.) Police were notified, reports were made, etc.
Yesterday my husband got a call that the scooter had been recovered, so today he and I spent ALL DAY jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get it back (can you believe that the office where you pick up the paperwork is fifteen miles away from the lot where the city tows your vehicle? Ridiculously frustrating and humiliating when YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR VEHICLE.) It took hours. For what? Once we made it to the city impound lot I felt all of my faith in humanity drain away, my beautiful scooter crumpled and broken. Stolen by my neighbor only one block away!!!!! I have the name, address and phone number of the person who ruined my scooter dream. He's only a kid, of course. What can I do? I only have liability insurance. Four months ago I paid $2100 for a sparkly new vehicle, now I'd be lucky to get money for parts. I'm shaking with rage.
How can I recover my loss?
posted by cometwendy to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Was the thief arrested? If so, wouldn't a judge probably require him to pay for repairs/replacement?
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:40 PM on August 15, 2007

In what country/state do you live?
posted by nzero at 2:43 PM on August 15, 2007

Well, there's two separate issues here - what to do about the punk kid (Bring the hammer down. Hard.), and what to do about the scoot.

We need more info about the scoot - how bad is it? What, exactly, is broken? Does it start? Are the wheels still on? The transmission? The tailpipe? They're very easy to work on (I'm not particularly handy, and I've modded my wife's Honda Met II pretty seriously).

I've got my doubts about whether the scoot is a total loss - unless the frame is bent (did he crash it?), it's probably salvageable, though with some time or effort.

Also, depending on how involved you'd like to get, I'm fairly confident that civil court is an option for recovering your losses. (not a lawyer, not your lawyer, etc.)
posted by god hates math at 2:47 PM on August 15, 2007

You can sure as hell consider small claims court. Cheaper for you (no lawyers to pay off) but just as legally binding for him if you win your claim. You'll need good evidence, of course.

If you happen to know a lawyer who is willing to give you free advice talk to him/her before taking any action, though. You don't want to close off any options until you've considered everything.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:48 PM on August 15, 2007

I assume (what choice do I have?) that you know who took it because the police caught him/her with it. Presumably the kid has parents, and the police have a record of it being recovered from him/her, yes? Go to the parents, armed with the police report and the value of the scooter USED in the condition it was in when he/she took it. If they won't pay up, sue 'em in small claims court -- when the judge sees that it was recovered in the kid's possession by the police, and that you're not attempting to get more than the used value, that will be that.

And in the future:

1. Don't get liability coverage only for your vehicle, unless you're willing to go through this again;

2. Don't leave your scooter visible to the public, and don't leave it unsecured. If you had it stored and secured and this still happened, see #1 above.
posted by davejay at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2007

The scooter starts, and my husband drove it home from the impound lot..... but it's obviously been crashed. lots of body damage, the engine sounds like crap, the turn signals are broken off, the seat has been pried off to get to the gas tank, the ignition has been popped out, and the whole thing has been spray-painted black. The racks and back rest have been torn off. It handles very poorly.
Oh, yes- I'm in Philadelphia, PA., and I'm assuming that the thief was arrested- there's a line on the recovered vehicle report for "Name of Driver Other Than Owner" (which translates to "Evil Thieving Bastard").
posted by cometwendy at 3:02 PM on August 15, 2007

so wait, is the kid being charged with the theft? restitution is commonly a part of this mechanism, as loath as I am to recommend subjecting him to The System.
posted by rhizome at 3:55 PM on August 15, 2007

If the kid's being charged, you might get money back out of the restitution system. You could also sue the folks in civil court.

However, keep in mind that, even if you get a judgment against him that grants you some of his cash, he might not have any. I know my neighbors a block over couldn't cough up $2100 for a new scooter.

P.S. This is why comprehensive insurance isn't a ripoff. And on a scooter, it'd likely be mad cheap.
posted by Netzapper at 4:12 PM on August 15, 2007

Sounds like it's not just wrecked but also vandalized, what a mess.

My advice: document the scooter's condition as well as you can (photos, etc), talk to the police about how they recovered it (how solid is the case that it was this kid who stole it), then talk to the kid's parents (I assume "kid" means he's under 18). Don't bring up lawyers unless they seem unwilling to pay you otherwise — people are sometimes much more coöperative if you start out assuming that they're honest honorable people who will make good for their kid's actions. (But don't do anything that might prevent you winning a lawsuit until after the check clears!)

You might talk to a mechanic and ask how much it would cost to restore the scooter to its previous condition; I think that would be the fairest amount of money to ask for, and I also suspect the mechanic will tell you the cheapest option is to scrap the scooter and buy another one.
posted by hattifattener at 4:14 PM on August 15, 2007

Run the kid over with your car. That'll make him sorry you're not still driving a scooter, if nothing else.
posted by BostonJake at 7:54 PM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, yes- I'm in Philadelphia, PA.

OMG - is this you? If so I feel for ya, I had the same thing happen to my car in Philly and even made similar (yet more vulgar) posts to CL. For the good of the community PRESS WHATEVER CHARGES YOU CAN. Pile on some civil action on top of that: take them to small claims court, get a court order for repayment, hire a collection agency to make their lives a living hell, whatever it takes. Countless Philadelphia victims without the knowledge of their corresponding criminal are counting on you to take another budding car thief off the street.
posted by datacenter refugee at 8:53 PM on August 15, 2007

This film might be good reference material as to how to handle the kid.
posted by item at 9:28 PM on August 15, 2007

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