My friend's car was stolen. Catch: by her husband.
May 15, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Legalfilter: My friend's car was stolen. Catch: by her husband. What are her options?

So a very close friend of mine just found that her car was stolen... by her husband. Her name (only her name) is on the title. He's crossed state borders.

Details: She's in Arkansas, he claims to be in Oklahoma city (but how far can you trust a lying, thieving, cheating bastard, right?) and also claims her car is impounded. She's checked with the OK DMV and (surprise, surprise!) they don't have any record of her vehicle. She was told that she can't report it as stolen unless she goes to Oklahoma city and files it in person there. Which is ridiculous. How can she get there without a car? Are there any ways around this?

We would love to get her car back as soon as possible and I, full of rage, want to see this guy get jailtime for grand theft auto, or at least get some kind of penalty since I can't track him down and sucker-punch him like I want to.

Money's tight, lawyers are last resorts. She is a sweet, wonderful, trusting person and if you knew her, your heart would be broken too.

Help, please, and thanks.
posted by reebear to Law & Government (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing that she should report it stolen to the local police department...
posted by HuronBob at 4:30 PM on May 15, 2008

Can she report it stolen in Arkansas, because that's where it was stolen?
posted by Airhen at 4:30 PM on May 15, 2008

She'll need a report with the local police so they can get the phone records to track him down to OKC, because at this point that location is just hearsay. File a report with the FBI just because of the multiple state aspect and it'll make the local police take her more seriously. They won't look into it themselves but there's always a chance.

Identify any toll roads he would have taken and pass those on to the police so they can ask for photos, etc. I realize much of these suggestions will come to nothing but the point of doing them is to keep the police focused on the case. Unless he steals more cars, or has a history (that's a hint, but don't delve too deeply there), it'll be hard to keep them on it.

There's also the chance OKC will take the report over the phone if it's filed already somewhere else.

and IANAL, etc.
posted by jwells at 4:41 PM on May 15, 2008

Best answer: IANAL but my first reaction is this... they're married. Many areas of the law do not recognize his-and-hers property during the course of the marriage... so there's actually a question as to whether or not the car is actually hers and not theirs.

If it's their car and not her car, the cops aren't going to help because it's not theft. He just went somewhere with his car.

Like it or not, a family lawyer is going to be almost necessary to solve this problem, esp. if the cops aren't going to be helpful. She could try going down to the station and filling out a police report, but the police may look at it and say "Marital spat, big complicated mess, goes in the circular file"... if so, about the only option left is going to be getting a lawyer to help her navigate the system.
posted by toomuchpete at 5:01 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

IMHO, it sounds to me like you are getting swept into a drama spiral. When did this all happen? What did she do when she realized the car was missing?

Anyway, assuming his taking of the car was really theft, then the only people who can do anything about it are the police in the jurisdiction where it happened. That's where the crime occurred.

But if they are still married and there's no separation agreement, then there probably wasn't a crime.
posted by gjc at 6:08 PM on May 15, 2008

Actually...regardless of ANY legal recourse you may seems as if your wonderful trusting friend wouldn't do anything about it.

Maybe this dude would get a slap on the wrist from the law, but in the end...will she do ANYTHING to make sure he won't do anything like this in the future?

She needs to get rid of him. I've been a good friend (like you're being) in situations like this and it is FRUSTRATING. TOTALLY frustrating.

I'm sorry...and I hope she gets the strength to get rid of him.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:10 PM on May 15, 2008

Your friend is an adult. She can proceed however she sees fit. Look for a local law clinic in your area if she needs advice. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the police, perhaps talk to a detective and see what they think. This type of thing probably happens a lot.

You, on the other hand probably need to step back and catch your breath. The portions of your question that veer off into how sweet she is and how much of a jerk he is belies some emotional connection which could come back and bite you in the ass. Here's a guy who just stole his wife's car. He's probably capable of doing a lot of damage to things and people...
posted by wfrgms at 6:24 PM on May 15, 2008

They're still married? In Texas, the law wouldn't get involved because it's his car too. I guess your best bet would be to call a lawyer and ask what the laws are. Chances are theres nothing she can do without divorce.
posted by Sufi at 6:26 PM on May 15, 2008

But if they are still married and there's no separation agreement, then there probably wasn't a crime.

Ditto. Police don't have time for silly stuff like this. If she doesn't want to share property with him, tell her to get a divorce.
posted by jayder at 6:31 PM on May 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, everyone. I was kinda worried that this would be the case. For the record, a divorce is most likely an inevitability, considering the circumstances of his departure. I don't like it, but I mean, I could easily see the situation in which one partner buys a car for the other and then demanded it back out of petty spite or something. Ah, laws.

hal_c_on: Thanks. I hope so too.

wfrgms: Law clinic is a great idea, thanks.
posted by reebear at 7:14 PM on May 15, 2008

Best answer: Arkansas, as far as I know, is not a community property state, so if the car is titled solely in her name, it's hers and if he took it without permission, he stole it. If it's titled in both their names, it's joint property and he didn't steal anything.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission (they register cars in Oklahoma) wouldn't have any record of the car. The OKC impound yard would, if you can find their number.

If the car was stolen in Arkansas, the theft report should be filed with the local police department. The car wasn't stolen in Oklahoma City. How much will get done regarding your stolen car depends entirely on the department involved. Some care, some really don't.

Personally, rather than involving the police, I'd get the car back (a bus ticket isn't that expensive) and sue him in small claims court for the costs involved in doing so.
posted by wierdo at 8:07 PM on May 15, 2008

Actually, now that I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised if OKC has the towing company impound the car, but their police department should have a record of it if they had it impounded. If it was impounded because it was parked on private property, it could be at any towing company with room to store it. (and charge you fees!)

I say this because I remember once having to take a friend to some random towing company in Bentonville to get his car back when the police had it impounded out at XNA.
posted by wierdo at 8:10 PM on May 15, 2008

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