Can the Police Tell if Your Car is Up for Repo

Car repossession is a process by which a lender gets back their car from a debtor. When you purchase a car with the hope of paying monthly and default in the payment, the lender can proceed with repossession to get the car back.

The process of car repossession is not easy. No wonder most lenders don’t like repossessing cars. They have to hire a repo man who will do the repossession for them.

Therefore, if your car is up for repossession, the repo man will be the one to tow the car to your lender. But the question is, can the police tell if your car is up for repossession?

In most states in the United States, the repo man or loan company often inform the local police about a repossession before it takes place. Therefore, the police is aware if your car is up for repossession if they have been notified.

Can the Police Tell if Your Car is Up for Repo?

The answer to this question depends on your state of residence. In some states in the United States, before a repo man or financial institutions proceed with repossessing a car, they will notify the local police of the area where the repossession will take place by providing the police with the VIN number or license plate number of the car and the location where the repossession will occur.

However, the reason for the notification is to get the police informed in case the debtor call the police to report the car stolen after it has been repossessed, the police will not waste their time looking for a car that was never stolen.

For example, if your car is up for repossession and you drive to Walmart to buy some groceries, of course, you will have to park on the Walmart parking lot.

If the car is towed while you’re inside Walmart, you will come out to think your car is stolen. Your next action would be to call the police.

Since the repo agent or your lender has informed the police before the repossession took place, the will not end up looking for a car that was never stolen. So yes, in some states, the police can tell if a car is up for repo if they have been notified by the repo company, though not in all the states of the United States.

Meanwhile, even in these States, the repo men or lenders may decide not to inform the police. They can just go ahead with the repossession especially if they have reached out to you about the payment and nothing was done. So, you should know that the car can be reposed at any moment in time.

Role of Police In Car Repossession

The police play the role of peace keeper in car repossession. They are there to ensure that things doesn’t escalate to undermine the public safety.

If for example, you parked in a grocery store parking lot to buy groceries and from inside the store, you see your car being towed by the repo man, you will definitely rush outside to either know why your car is being towed or stop the towing. In that process, you may end up calling the police.

When the police arrive at the scene, they can only help keep the peace and avoid things from escalating to undermine public safety.

In this case, the police does not have any right to order you to give up your key to the repo man or even order you to step out or aside from the car so that the repo man can do his job. If he does that, he has violated your right and breached the peace. You can sue the police for the action.

Moreover, the Consumer Protection Laws and the US Constitution does not give police officers the right to conduct a “curbside courtroom” to determine if there was a wrongful repossession, or if the repo agent may continue with the repossession. However, there’s an exception to this.

When you call a police officer to come to the scene of where your car is being repossessed, the police can order you to step out or aside of the car and hand over the keys to the repo man if the repo man has a court order requesting the car to be repossessed. This is the only time the police can order you out of the car without breaching any peace.

Repossession companies does not always go with court order to repossess a car except when it has become obvious that you’re hiding the car and refused the car to be repossessed. Since the repo man cannot repossess a car while you are inside, your lender can get a court order that will mandate your to release the car to them.

Also, if the defaulter reports the car to the police as a stolen under the state’s motor vehicle code, because the police has been informed prior to the repossession, they will refuse to accept the report.


Since the police work with information, they can only tell if your car is up for repossession if they have been notified by the lender or the repo company prior to the repossession. Without them being notified, they won’t know a car that is up for repossession.