Tulsa Man Sues, Claiming To Own $100K Car Police Say He Stole

Monday, November 18th 2013, 6:21 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa man is suing to get back a 1967 Camaro worth nearly $100,000. The problem is, police say the man helped steal the car and never owned it to begin with.

Police say there's all kinds of evidence to show Rodney Rotert helped steal the Camaro and knew it was stolen, but Rotert maintains the car is his and he wants it back.

In the fall of 2007, three classic Camaros were stolen from a classic car place in Arkansas.

Police say the thieves were driving the cars back to Oklahoma when one got pulled over by police, so they stashed the other two stolen Camaros until they could go back to Arkansas and get them.

They say Rodney Rotert drove the thieves back to Arkansas, picked up one of the Camaros with his trailer and drove it back to Tulsa. They say he kept the 1967 black and silver Camaro worth nearly $100,000, changed the VIN number, then lied to get a title for it.

Later, Tulsa police found and confiscated the car. Police found a hidden VIN on the car that confirmed it was the one stolen from Arkansas, plus the Arkansas owner drove to Tulsa to look it over.

"[He] went through this car top to bottom, spent two hours crawling all over it, pointing out the custom features he knew were on the car that was stolen from him," said Jed Isbell, of Connor and Winters law firm.

Records say Rotert claimed he bought the car from a man named Victor Revilla, but Revilla denies that.

Rotert even pleaded no contest to possessing the very same stolen Camaro and got a deferred sentence, but he still filed a lawsuit, claiming the car is his and he wants it back.

Reporter Lori Fullbright: "Is it unusual in your experience that someone who would be involved in possessing a stolen car, would sue to get it back?"
Jed Isbell: "Yes, highly unusual."
Reporter Lori Fullbright: "Am I missing something?"
Jed Isbell: "You're not missing anything. In my 10 years of practicing law, I've never seen anything like this."

Rotert argues he has a title that matches the car's visible VIN, so it's his.

His attorney said this case is about police not following proper procedure. He said Oklahoma law says, if there's a piece of property and a dispute over who owns it, you must have a hearing and let a judge decide who really does own it, but he said that wasn't done in this case. After police confiscated the car, they turned it over to the insurance company.

Philadelphia Insurance paid the claim on the car to the Arkansas owner, so they are fighting Rotert's efforts to get it back.

The lawyers for Philadelphia Insurance said the company refuses to give in to this type of injustice, and they expect the case to go to trial so jurors can decide who gets the car.

The insurance company has counter sued Rotert for abuse of process and is asking for damages.

Why has the case dragged on for three years? That's the court system.