Hammer Time: Tramps And Thieves

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time tramps and thieves

As Ben Hamper once wrote for his book, ‘The Rivethead’… “Certain names have been changed in this book to expose the innocent and protect the guilty.” Well I say the guilty deserve every bit of publicity we can give them in this world. Especially when a few longtime criminals have names that can change by the minute and circumstance. Exposing the guilty is a public service and I will let you, the reader, know about these worthless bastards with just an absolute minimal amount of alphabetical alteration. As for the innocent…

Stan was not among them. For the life of me I will never figure out why he went straight to his place of residence. But he certainly made it easy for the police. Soon after he came home, I had three of Georgia’s finest knocking on his door.

“Do you want to press charges?” I was asked as I rolled down the window and pulled near the closest man in blue.

“Not so long as I get all my property back.” The sheriff was accompanied by several deputies and unlike my county’s police force, this one was well-funded and well-staffed.

“Is this all you need?” The officer got me the keys to the car along with the license plate.

“He also has keys to the lot.”

The sheriff approaches Stan, whose fingers I can see shaking from 100 feet away. After a minute, he came back…

“He says he doesn’t have them…”

“Tell him I’m filing charges if I don’t get them back.”

Stan tried to fumble through his pocket and before he could so much as open his pocket I heard in a voice as loud as an air siren…

“Get your hands away from your jacket!”

Wow. That was a big mistake. North Georgia is rapidly becoming a meth hotbed and Stan would eventually have secrets that not even I could imagine. The police helped him uncover the keys with his hands tucked beyond his back. The sheriff looked at me and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to press charges.”

“Not tonight. If I ever see him again I guarantee it will be his last day of freedom.” The sheriff asked if there’s anything else I need help with. We walked away from Stan and the three other police officers

“Can you follow me to the gas station. I need to drive the car away from here so that it gets safely picked up.”

“No problem.”

I parked the near-stolen car a few miles away at a nearby QT gas station. These places are brightly lit and the police will often congregate around them due to their easy access to the highways. I let the store manager know about the vehicle and had it safely picked up later that evening. The sheriff gave me a lift back..

“Hey. Haven’t I seen you up at Red Top?”

Indeed he had… I had bought one of the county’s police cars a year back or so and remember idly talking to a sheriff about the differences between Crown Vics, Imaplas and Intrepids. That was the guy! The vehicle I bought had been a 2004 Intrepid with 90k that went for $700. After I bought it, one of the largest wholesalers in the state had asked me, “What are you gonna do with that thing? Become the next Hannibal Lecter?”

It had the rear window bars and cage that so many police enthusiasts coveted. Save for the removed police bar and computer, it was pretty much a stock police vehicle with four new tires to boot. I ended up financing it… having it repoed… almost sold it to a rabbi (he wanted personal transportation and security for the temple’s members), and then sold it to a high school kid who probably wrapped it around a pole. Net proceeds for all that drama were close to five grand.

“Why didn’t you press charges on that guy?”

“The only thing you can do with someone like that is get them out of your life. If I press charges the judge would at most give him a few months jail and a lifetime’s worth of probation. I’ve found that sometimes it’s better to have the threat of prosecution on a scumbag’s head and just have him go down the road and away from your family.”

I won’t quote the rest of the conversation a verbatim. But in my neck of the woods, the prevailing sentiment is to take ‘habitual violators’, shoot them, and dump them on the side of the road. The court system is absolutely infested with repeat offenders who provide little more than revenue for private prisons at the expense of their victims (who rarely have the offender serve half their time), the taxpayer, and the police officer’s health and well-being.

I got out of the cop car, shook the officer’s hand, and was on the road back to my lot. 9:00 PM. I missed having dinner with the wife and kids.

“Calm down. This isn’t worth your energy or thoughts.” As someone who has spent most of his career at auto auctions and car lots, I have a near reflexive tendency to go against the emotions of the moment. Some call it being aloof. For me it’s thinking strategically.

Three calls in seven years. Not too bad. One almost stolen car this evening. One Bishop of a pentecostal church who was literally busted with the keys in hand. One drug laden lady whose ex-husband helped me track the vehicle down. That was it. For a business that was seemingly getting seemlier, I was doing ok for myself. Seven years. Not a single lost car. No fatalities. Just stress.

I got back to the lot and made the final inventory. One missing car. Wait, did I count the right one? Damn it. Looks like one of the rentals didn’t return on time. (340) area code.

I called the cell phone. No answer. Closed the lot up. Drove back home and Googled the (340) area code. U.S. Virgin Islands. Shit. Name on the renter is Deano Marx. Googled his address. Right next to a car lot I know very well. Hmmm… interesting. After a few bits of research I hit paydirt.

Deano lives in a house that’s owned by Gypsys. How can I tell? Seven transactions over ten years with zero cash transacted for each one. This group is likely bilking insurance companies. When I google the address of the current owner his current residence turns out to be a fortune telling business in Marietta. Bobby Marx apparently also owns at least a half dozen other places in and around the city. That doesn’t make a man guilty… but it’s not doing much for my nerves.

Then the moment of clarity. I googled the elder Marx name with the words ‘gypsy arrested’. Got more than I bargained for. Seven figure cash seizures by the IRS. Threats to their own family members. A manipulative psychic syndicate that bilks the weak and gullible. Wait, he has a dealership too? A used car dealership? In Georgia?… and this guy’s son needs a car?

I peeled out of my house and made way for the home of Deano Marx.

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4 of 20 comments
  • Zackman Zackman on Oct 15, 2010

    Well, there are entirely too many bottom-of-the-barrel car lots around and too many of the same type of people who are involved with them. Legitimate independent lots have to deal with people like this, too. That segment has to be pretty sleazy, but even for "established" new-car dealers, if Edmunds.com story of "Confessions of a Car Salesman" is any indication. There is so much money involved and the stakes are high, not only for the seller, but for the buyer as well. Gypsies? Yeah, the local evening news used to warn viewers whenever they would pass through town and what precautions to take. Sadly, they have a less-than-stellar reputation because of that. Cher was right (mostly). Do all TTAC columnists work for lots like this? I guess one has to earn a living. Living dangerously, though.

    • See 1 previous
    • Zackman Zackman on Oct 15, 2010

      Steve; Thanks for the reply. I meant you when I wrote "legitimate independent lots". I know from reading and thoroughly enjoying TTAC that you are "above board"! There's no way I'd intentionally slam anyone on this or any other site, if I belonged to one. This place sure is fun to hang out in!

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Oct 15, 2010

    Thanks for the entertaining read, Steven. I look forward to the next.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.