LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Car trouble is no fun, but when it happens, you want to get it fixed right away.

However, in the midst of the panic, how often do you stop and check whether or not a mechanic or body shop is allowed to get the job done? The Nevada DMV Compliance Division told FOX5 they are constantly dealing with complaints about unlicensed mechanics or body shops.

“It is huge, we have so many shops that are unlicensed,” Chief JD Decker with the compliance division said.

A few weeks ago, FOX5 rode along with Chief Decker as his team followed up on complaints from car owners who said they dropped their car off at Sanchez Auto Body near Charleston and Mohave and were not able to get it back.

“They can say they can fix it in a month and you never see them again, you never see your car again,” Chief Decker said.

Chief Decker said the shop owner, Jose Sanchez, was cited by the DMV before but now he is back on their radar.

When Chief Decker’s team went to the shop, it did not seem like it was open at first, and there was no sign of Sanchez.

However, there were plenty of signs of cars.

“You don’t necessarily know what you are getting into when you are going in, but you can’t really go in heavy,” Chief Decker said.

After a few minutes, two workers came out to open the gate to the shop, and the compliance team went in.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau also showed up to start investigating the cars.

Chief Decker said they found licenses in the back office, but not the right ones, including a repair license a shop owner would need to get from the DMV. This would protect customers if there were disputes regarding the repairs.

“They don’t have a bond, they don’t have insurance, so if they mess up somebody’s car, they tend to not want to give it back,” Chief Decker said.

After a few hours, the presence of Chief Decker’s team and the FOX5 cameras drew attention to the customers who had their cars inside the Sanchez Auto Body Lot

Ceasar Zavalza told FOX5 he dropped his truck off 9 months ago to fix the transmission, but now the back of the car was torn apart.

“I know everything was on it when I brought it, and I know half of it is gone now,’ Zavalza said. “I dropped it off, gave him the key and never heard from him.”

After a few hours, the results from the NICB were in.

“There were no stolen vehicles on site today, but we realized that is because this is more like an insurance fraud-type scam where the owner is unlicensed and receiving payments from insurance companies and not actually spending the money to fix the vehicles,” Chief Decker said.

On March 4, Sanchez came to the DMV after he was requested to come.

Chief Decker told FOX5 that Sanchez was given seven criminal citations:

  • 1 count of Unlicensed Wrecker
  • 2 counts of Unlicensed Body Shop
  • 4 counts of Unlicensed Garage

He was also given two administrative citations for deceptive trade, with fines of up to $15,000.

Chief Decker said the car Sanchez arrived in had a fictitious California paper registration tag.

Metro police took Sanchez into custody on various charges, some from when Sanchez threatened two customers with a firearm, according to Chief Decker.

If you are looking to get your car repaired and want to make sure it is a legitimate business, Chief Decker said to search up the business on the DMV website to make sure they are properly licensed.


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