Sunday, July 19, 2015

Crash, Scam, Repair, Buy, Sell & Another Scam, Police Photo Lineup

I was driving home at 10:30pm Thursday May 21 after a Royal Arch chapter meeting and dinner in Petersham. I had one small bottle of low-alcohol beer with my modest dinner, and was alert and in good spirits, wearing my dinner suit. I had just turned off Canterbury Road into Wardell Road, travelling South, and driving quite conservatively (one of the few things I do where I consider myself as a conservative).  

Out of a side street (Morgan Street) from the left, going full bore, a motorcycle with no lights on pulled out in front of me. I wasn't going very fast, but at his speed, I don't think he could have negotiated the turn whether I had been there or not, regardless. I swerved right into the oncoming traffic lane and hit the brakes. He ditched the bike and came off it landing himself in the middle of the road. The bike went under my front left wheel, my left wheels rolled over it, it flipped up, and went through the back window.

I got out of the car and ran over to where the rider was sitting in the middle of the road. I said "Are you hurt, are you OK?". He didn't have a helmet on, nor leathers, just some dark clothes.  He was a young fellow, aboriginal features, maybe 20 years old.  He got up, didn't say anything to me, maybe mumbling something, then turned away from me, and walked away down the street.  I called out to him "Come back, you could be hurt!"  He just kept walking.  I called out again "Mate! Please come back!", but he just walked off into the dark and disappeared.  One of the local residents came up to me and asked how I was.  I said I wasn't injured, albeit a bit shook up, and more concerned for the other fellow. He had seen me calling to the other fellow, and had also called out to him.

I was in a slight bit of shock, so he called the police for me.  I regained some of my composure, and called my friend Justin, who had been at chapter with me that evening (Siew Fong was still in New York).  He drove back, and hung out with me.  One of the other neighbours called a towing company.

Quite a few police came, to my surprise.  They shut down the street, interviewed me and the other fellow, who confirmed my version of events, and breath-tested me (all clear).  They called the dog squad to try and track the rider, & informed me that the bike was stolen.  So we waited for the dog squad to come, and also a police tow truck to collect the motorcycle.  The dog didn't find anything.  They said they were taking the bike for DNA analysis! 

Fortunately, earlier that week I had read an article about tow truck scams.  When the neighbour's truck arrived, he offered to tow the car for $250 to a 'holding yard', I recognized the scam and declined his kind offer to hold my car for ransom.  He left, a bit disappointed. 

I called the NRMA, who informed me they won't provide tows after collisions.  After a bit of negotiation, I convinced the less than helpful operator to put me through to one of their recommended towing companies.  They sent out a truck.  I thanked Justin and said he should go home.  The truck arrived, and the driver informed me his truck wasn't licensed to tow collisions.  He did move my car to a side street.  The police left.  The truck driver called for a collision licensed truck, and said it would be a 2 to 3 hour wait.  I didn't want to wait until 4 or 5 in the morning, so I cancelled it. 

At about 2:30am I collected up all the personal items in the car into a couple of shopping bags.  I was able to catch a cab after a couple of minutes & went home.

The next morning I collected the jumper cables out of Siew Fong's car, and went to a meeting in the city.  I called my boss from the city, who told me she would collect me after the meeting.  She drove me to the car.  In daylight I assessed the car as drive-able, removed some hanging bits, & we jump-started it.  I drove it home.

My car was nothing special, a bog standard white 2002 Corolla hatch, 148,000 km on the clock, very reliable, very cheap to run and maintain, regularly serviced.  It had a few scratches and little dents, and was the cheapest car my ego would permit.  I had bought it used at the auctions in 2004. Given its age and resale value, I only had 3rd party liability insurance on it.

I called my mechanic, who gave me reference for a reputable smash repairer in Hurstville.  I took it to him, and he quoted me $2500 to do the basic repairs.

I wasn't sure the car was worth repairing, so I called up a friend from my lodge (Jimmy) who sells used cars, for his advice.  The damage had been cosmetic, not structural.  He said the car was definitely worth fixing up & selling. He offered to organise a much cheaper repairer and detail for me, so I drove it out to his yard, left it with him & took the train home.

I filed a claim with my insurance company, because the policy said it would still cover me in some circumstances, and I didn't want them to ever to decline a future claim saying I hadn't been fully forthcoming about driving incidents.  They called me back to say I needed to get the details of the other driver for them to cover me.

I needed a car, so I went down to the Pickles auction house to see what they had in stock.  They had a few set price cars that worked for me, but nothing for auction.  They wouldn't allow a test drive, so I went to a Toyota dealer with a big sign inviting me in for a test drive.  They also had a used car advertised that fit the bill, but it was already sold, and I wasn't willing to be up-sold.  I went back to the auction house & bought one of the hybrid Camrys I had looked at.

Sell & Another Scam

A few weeks later Jimmy called me and said the Corolla was ready.  He suggested selling it on (similar to Craigslist).  I did some research on similar cars, took some photos, and set the price to $5499 (because I actually wanted $5000). 

The next day I got an email from some guy on an oil rig off New Zealand wanting to buy the car as a graduation gift for his son in Perth, WA.  I emailed him back to advise the car still smelled a bit & had been in an accident, thus not appropriate for such an important gift.  He came back saying he still wanted the car, full price, and was sending an agent to ship the car to WA.  I thought this a bit odd, so I called Jimmy, who said it was a well known scam (a quick Google search confirmed this).

I got lots of text messages over the week. All asking my lowest price. One insisted he would buy the car, to not sell it to anyone else because he had to have it, but never showed up. Then there was this guy who SMS'd me 5 days after the initial posting:
Received from buyer:    Hi        
Received from buyer:    Is your car available for sale
I reply:    Yes it is.  Please come and have a look at it.
Received from buyer:    The last price how Mach  sell
I reply:    $5100 
Received from buyer:    I have 4000 only sell if I bought
I reply:    No
Received from buyer:    4200$
Received from buyer:    ??? 
I reply:    $5100     
Received from buyer:    I can pay 4500$ A da you OK I will get you four o'clock pm 
Received from buyer:    I've got only $ 4,500 and another price I pay you if it agrees Send jQuery
I reply:    Sorry, I have already declined better offers. It is a good car, & I am in no hurry to sell.
Received from buyer:    I spoke with another person is has the same car
Received from buyer:    He told me Come taken
Received from buyer:    4500
Received from buyer:    But you're close to my house you just one hour  and he two hours
At this point he sends me 2 images of advertisements for someone else's similar car.  And the other car was actually much closer to his home in Fairfield.
I reply:    I wish you well with your purchase in Bass Hill. You got a bargain.
Received from buyer:     I Liked so your car 
Received from buyer:    Can you send me your home address I'll pay you 4700
I reply:    You are welcome to come and inspect the car, but I will not take less than $5100. The address is ... ...
Received from buyer:    4800$ Please 
I reply:    I am not a car dealer, nor do I haggle.  The price is $5100. Do not waste our time if you are unwilling or unable to pay the price for the car.
Received from buyer:    Ok
Received from buyer:    I will get to your home 3:30pm
Received from buyer:    Hello      
Received from buyer:    I arrived at the home title

He came with a mechanic friend of his and the other guy's wife.  They inspected the car, had a test drive, and offered me $5000 cash, which I agreed to.  They drove off into the sunset.

Police Photo Lineup
This week I got a call from the police, wanting me to come in to examine a photo lineup.  I agreed.  They filmed me while I looked at the images (I'm not allowed to say whether I picked one or not).  I had to complete a few written statements, and had a nice conversation with one of the constables.  I wasn't expecting the police to put much effort into this event, so I was quite surprised - the constable said they do this for all cases.

So I sold the car for a fair price, the purchaser got a good reliable car,  I now have a new-ish much more fuel efficient ride.

I don't hold any animosity towards the guy who stole the motorcycle & ran into me. I feel sorry for him, disappointed he has made such poor choices in life.