Car wash says it's not responsible for stolen vehicle


It started off as a car wash, but it quickly turned into an auto theft.

What would you do if this happened to you?

“Hello, how are you guys? I'm Gary Harper with 3 On Your Side,” Harper said as he walked into Bethany Auto Spa.

3 On Your Side was attempting to get answers for Mercedes Giron. She recently took her truck into Bethany Auto Spa for a quick wash, but after leaving her truck in the care of the car wash attendant, her truck disappeared.

"So, I'm asking to the guys, 'What happened to my truck?' And he says, 'I don't know,' " Giron explained.

As it turns out, Giron's truck entered the car wash tunnel, but she never saw it come out. That's because someone actually jumped into her truck and stole it.

"Somebody opened the door, entered the car and jumped in, and he left," she said.

As the surveillance video from Bethany Auto Spa clearly shows, someone bent over to keep from being seen, then opened the passenger side of the truck and got in.

And once the tuck came out of the tunnel, the unknown driver took off.

"I'm asking for the supervisor. I'm asking for everybody, and everybody smiles. No paying attention to me," she said.

Not paying attention and not giving an explanation.

And, to make matters worse, Giron says the car wash informed her the business isn't responsible for her stolen truck.

"He vacuumed the car, he had the keys, and the car wash is responsible for my truck," she said.

Giron filed a police report but was told police couldn't do much.

In the meantime, filing a claim with her insurance company wasn't an option because she only has a liability policy which strictly covers damages she causes to another car.

However, if she had the more expensive full coverage policy, she could have filed stolen vehicle claim.

Giron says she went a week without transportation, and then police finally recovered her vehicle which was stripped and on blocks.

"Yeah, this is my truck. There's no tires, no nothing. It's broken, something in the front and right here, too," she said.

3 On Your Side got involved and spoke with the owner of Bethany Auto Spa.

He refused to talk to us on camera, but told 3 On Your Side that his business isn't responsible because the truck wasn't stolen by one of his employees.

So, we took that explanation to Ernest Calderon, an attorney who specializes in corporate business litigation.

"It's very unreasonable to expect you to take your car to a car wash and then have it be stolen, and then the owners of the car wash say they have no liability," he said.

Calderon recommends that consumers always pay attention to any posted signs that claim a business has limited liability in case an issue does arise.

"If you're a consumer and you see a posting of some sort that causes you heartburn, don't buy the services; go someplace else,” he said.

But even if a business, like a car wash, does post a warning like that, Calderon maintains that this situation goes above and beyond that limitation.

"The law favors limiting liability ... to a reasonable extent," Calderon explained. "The car wash incident that you described is ridiculous."

Consumers should also know that under Arizona law, businesses aren't required to even have insurance.

In this case, the owner of Bethany Auto Spa says he does have insurance, but he hasn't told us if he will submit a claim for Giron's stolen truck that was returned stripped and damaged.

Then he stopped talking to 3 On Your Side altogether.

So, 3 On Your Side paid an unannounced visit to the car wash, where we spoke to a manager about car washes and car thefts.

Harper: “Is that a strange thing to happen?

Manager: “I mean, I have seen that before.”

A tearful Giron says she's left frustrated, angry and still without a way to get around.

"I worked too hard. I'm single. I work hard, pay everything. So, this is my job. I'm using the truck for my job,” she said.

The car wash owner may have stopped talking to 3 On Your Side, but that doesn't mean the story ends here.

We're asking the car wash to submit a claim to its insurance company. We'll have an update on what happens.


3 On Your Side' Investigative Reporter

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