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High-Tech System Helps Repo Man Find Cars

ORLANDO, Fla. — A high-tech system makes it a lot harder to hide if a driver is not making their car payments. Because of the economy, one repo man installed a system just like police have that scans license plates to find cars to repossess and now he’s very busy.

Tony Volta would call this year a success. So far, he’s taken more than 800 vehicles the bank wanted back and he attributes that success in part to the license plate scanners mounted on the front of his truck.

“No matter where we go, no matter what we do, no matter what time, day or night, these are always on,” Volta said.

He’s scanned 183,000 tags so far this year. Eleven thousand of those were cars on the repo list.

Volta’s latest assignment came in Tuesday night. He searched his database and found he had scanned the vehicle October 8.

“We’re trying to mimic the time-frame we spotted that vehicle, go back and see if we have success,” he said.

Since June, Tony Volta has used the license plate scanner. It’s so successful because every tag scanned is stored forever and he can go back at any time to find the location where the plate hit.

He had no luck on Wednesday, but the $10,000 system, Volta says, has paid for itself in five months.

“It’s cut down our expenses on fuel, travel, so on and so forth,” he said.

Volta is one of three repo companies in Central Florida with the high-tech scanner. He thinks, in five years, everyone will be using it and it’s not the only technology that’s leading Volta to wanted cars.

“MySpace, Twitter, any social site providing public information, laws of our state, it’s legal and we do monitor those sites,” Volta said.

He says the technology doesn’t make the job any safer, just more efficient and, for a guy making roughly $400 a car, that’s a big deal.

The downturn in the economy is leading to a huge up-swing in the numbers of car repossessions. From 2007 to 2008, car repossessions went up 12 percent. In 2009, they’re up another five percent.

Most banks will let car owners miss two to three payments before they call the repo man. Also, the paperwork a car buyer signs when getting a car loan means banks don’t even have to notify them if they’re going to repossess their car.

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