Suppose the wind blows your trash can lid over onto your neighbor’s yard. Technically you must trespass to obtain your lid, but to do so you will not breach the peace so there would usually be no crime. Once you have defaulted on your car loan, it has the legal status of that trash can lid, when the creditor wants to repossess the car. If the creditor, using his repo man, gains entry to your property, or some other property (your employer’s parking lot, or a public parking lot, or your brother’s driveway) without a breach of the peace, he has a right to take your car. And remember, if you have defaulted on the loan, it is not your car!

When you file a bankruptcy, most attorneys will perform a trace of your registered property (cars, land, etc.) to be sure you have not failed to list any property in your bankruptcy. When we make that trace, the tracing agency usually provides a list of all your relatives and their addresses. The repo guys do the same thing. They will know where you are likely to hide the car if it becomes the subject of a potential repossession.

And yes, if your car is parked on your driveway, the repo man can enter your property and take the car. The same applies to leaving the car parked where you work. The law will usually take the side of the repo man because he is simply returning a “lost” valuable automobile to its rightful owner.

There is really no reason to oppose a potential repossession. If you drive the car, you can assume that it will remain on the list of a repo driver, and when business is slow, he will check to see if your car is located at the many different possible sites he is aware you might be found. If you can delay the repo long enough you may be able to regain possession of the car through a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you choose to keep the car, and plan to protect your right to do so in a bankruptcy, you should leave the car where no one would expect to find it (at a non-relative’s house, or inside a locked garage, or blocked in where a tow truck would not be able to remove it). If it is hidden at a place where no repo man would have a reason to look, you can probably keep the car, but what good is the car if you have to keep it hidden?

The car will have a lien on it in the name of the creditor, so if you can’t drive it, and can’t sell it, and the debt is diminishing your credit rating – eventually you will probably decide that returning the car to the creditor might be the lesser of evils.

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