Vintage Car Missing at Foreclosure
Hat tip to DOB for sending this in, from telegram.com:
But that’s exactly what Aaron Dahrooge of Worcester has been doing for three months now in an effort to get back his beloved 1973 Dodge Challenger.
The distinctive muscle car, which is painted “plum crazy” purple and has a burly V-8 engine with a chrome air scoop popping up through the hood, was taken from the garage of his deceased mother’s home in Burncoat in late March.
Bank of America has vital information, but won’t tell him, Mr. Dahrooge claims.
His mother, April Dahrooge, died last year. Her mortgage lender, Bank of America Corp., had an ongoing foreclosure proceeding against the house at the time of her death. The foreclosure proceeding has not been completed, according to city property tax and state land records.
Mr. Dahrooge said he stored the Challenger in the garage of his mother’s house over the winter as he typically did because he was the executor of her estate.
In late March, Mr. Dahrooge went to the house at 78 Uncatena Ave. with his teenage son to retrieve the purple Challenger, which he had found years before rusting in a field and fully restored into an attention-grabbing hot rod.
When he pulled into the driveway, he immediately noticed the garage door had been padlocked from the outside.
“I thought that was weird, so I went around to the back to look through the window and saw the car was gone. My heart just dropped,” Mr. Dahrooge recalled.
A neighbor told Mr. Dahrooge that a work crew in a GMC Yukon had come to the house a few days before to winterize and secure it, a typical step banks take to protect their collateral in foreclosure proceedings on vacant houses.
A sign posted in the window of the house reads: “Caution: this house has been winterized with anti-freeze in all drains and toilet bowls. Please run water through the drains before using.”
The sign is dated March 19, 2012 — three days before Mr. Dahrooge came to get the car.
The neighbor, who requested that he not be identified by name, said in an interview yesterday that he was outside playing basketball with his son in March when the same GMC Yukon pulled up to the house two days after the winterization work.
“They unlocked the garage lock with their keys and towed the car out of there. The whole thing took five minutes,” the neighbor said.
Mr. Dahrooge reported the car stolen, and the neighbor gave a statement to police about what he had seen.
Mr. Dahrooge began frantically calling Bank of America to find out the name of the contractor the bank hired to secure and winterize the house.
He called the bank numerous times, was transferred to different departments, left messages for various bank officials, he said, but never got anywhere.
“I’ve called and called and called. Nobody will answer. When they do answer, they send you to some other department and things of that nature,” Mr. Dahrooge said.
Spokespeople for the Worcester Police Department and Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office declined to comment on the case, saying the investigation into the missing car remains open.
Bank of America spokeswoman Kelly E. Sapp said, “We continue to research the issue and are in full cooperation with law enforcement and legal authorities on this ongoing investigation. Should evidence be produced that shows wrongdoing by the vendor, we will act swiftly and take appropriate action.”
Mr. Dahrooge scoffed at the bank’s claim that it is in full cooperation with the investigation.
The detective assigned to the case told him that the bank did not respond to a mailed subpoena seeking the name of the winterization vendor, so the detective served it again, in person, on a bank manager at a branch on Main Street two weeks ago, according to Mr. Dahrooge.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called the bank. They’re stonewalling me,” Mr. Dahrooge said. “Every time I called Bank of America, it was the same. They’re the worst of the worst.”
Mr. Dahrooge, who owns an automotive repair shop on Chandler Street and had used Bank of America for his business accounts, had gone to the same Main Street branch in March and demanded to know the name of the contractor that had done the winterization.
He was thrown out of the bank, he said, after the exchange with the bank manager got testy. He returned a few days later and withdrew all his money and closed his business accounts.
Bank of America made headlines in Pittsburgh last year, and ultimately apologized, when its contractor there broke into the home of a borrower, who hadn’t even defaulted on her mortgage, while she was away.
The workers padlocked the doors, shut off utilities and took her pet parrot, Luke, according to an account published in the Wall Street Journal.
The bank has been hit with lawsuits alleging similar incidents in California and Texas, the New York Times reported.
Ms. Sapp, the Bank of America spokeswoman, declined to provide the name of the winterization contractor to the Telegram & Gazette. Mr. Dahrooge said he still doesn’t know the name of the contractor either, much to his annoyance.
“They’re withholding information about the location of my property,” he said.