Seeing his truck like this... beyond repair... made him sick. Ed Mora tried taking photos of it, but the operator of American Iron & Metal wouldn't let him, demanding he leave.
Ironically, Mora had done nothing wrong.
According to the Colorado State Patrol, Mora's 1990 Dodge Dakota Club Cab Sport was in good condition when it was stolen out of his driveway in Pueblo West. A thief who's now behind bars reportedly drove it to Colorado Springs and sold it to American Iron & Metal for its worth in scrap.
Mora says, "They purchased the stolen vehicle without a title. They took the vehicle, they processed it, they crushed it, and then found out this vehicle was stolen... then reported it."
Court documents back up Mora's story. The problem is recyclers are supposed to wait seven days before scrapping vehicles without proof of ownership. That's according to a state law.
Since the thief didn't have a title and American Iron & Metal reportedly crushed the car too soon... the Colorado State Patrol recommended misdemeanor charges be filed against the company.
It's an issue we tried to pursue.
I asked, "You know consumers get their cars stolen a lot in El Paso County. What rights do we have? Can you just answer me that?" The operator answers back, "Get off the property." I ask again, "I mean this poor guy had his car stolen." The operator answers, "Get off the property."
Mora took his crushed truck to another recycler... Western Scrap Processing Company getting $367 for his mangled mess.
Western Scrap's controller says their operators never crush or scrap cars before the seven day waiting period expires.
Mike Ade adds, "When someone drives in a vehicle in that good of a shape, hands over the keys and wants money, you know... without a title... that right there should put up a red flag."
Since American Iron & Metal refused to talk to us about this case... Mora took the company to Small Claims Court and won a judgement for $1,833. Now, the El Paso County District Attorney's office is taking action, too. I'm told the company's owner, James Warren is scheduled to appear in court for violating the state law in January 2009.
Warren wouldn't talk to us about Mora's truck. He told us to call police, but he did email me these notes saying he always follows Colorado law and works with law enforcement to prevent theft.
Remember... anyone can become a victim of auto theft. The best advice... keep important papers like the car title and recent photos in a safe place that way you can prove its value later, like Mora did.
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