KCBD Investigates: Walk away with a new car and a new identity - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

KCBD Investigates: Walk away with a new car and a new identity

Some vehicles are full of valuables and personal information Some vehicles are full of valuables and personal information
LPD car auction at Lubbock Wrecker LPD car auction at Lubbock Wrecker

The Lubbock Police Department says it auctions off about 130 abandoned vehicles a month.

Lubbock Police Lieutenant Ray Mendoza said often times, previous owners never come back to clean out their vehicles.

Since no one else is allowed inside until it is sold at auction, those buyers are often walking away with much more than a new vehicle.

"It is amazing sometimes what they leave inside," said Tim Benham, who owns Peace of Mind Auto Center.

Benham said he has found credit cards, driver's licenses, and mail from people's finance companies.

He said consider yourself lucky if he buys your vehicle.

"We have a burn pit. I guess that is good for them. The information that is in the cars that I get, I burn," Benham said.

Lt. Mendoza said it's not just personal information that is left behind in vehicles.

"We've heard that people find $500 for example inside the car that they probably just paid $4,200 for. It's some crazy stuff," Lt. Mendoza said.

He said the police department sends letters to the owners of the vehicles before they go to auction, but many times no one comes to claim their belongings.

They also make sure the vehicles have not been reported as stolen.

"We are not going to touch the car. Whatever is in the vehicle belongs to the new owner," Lt. Mendoza said.

Jamie Pruett said he comes to about 12 car auctions a year and is always amazed at what he finds.

"Everything from baby bags, car seats, panties, socks, bras, DVDs,car stereos, kitchen sinks, tool boxes - we'll find debit cards," Benham said.

Benham said he sells what he can and throws away the personal information he finds.

"I found the title to this vehicle in this truck," Benham said.

We asked Benham if he thought it would be easy for people who are not as honest as he is to take advantage of the personal information left behind.

"You bet, you bet," Benham said.

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