Dealership Talks About Salesperson Safety

Wednesday, May 31st 2006, 2:20 pm
By: News On 6

Car dealers react to the bizarre carjacking of a salesman from a Tulsa car lot at 40th and Memorial Tuesday night. The salesman says he'd gone on a test drive with two men when they tied him up with his own shirt and later dumped him in Bixby.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says car dealers were a little edgy Wednesday, but the good news is Tulsa Police have arrested one of the suspects in this kidnapping.

Tulsa Police caught up with one of the carjacking suspects on Tulsa's east side early Wednesday morning, as he was asleep in the stolen Cadillac SUV. 21-year-old Pablo Villanueva faces several charges, including kidnapping.

At Tulsa United Motor Sales, owner Randy Oliver tells the News on 6, what was going through his mind when his salesman didn't come back from the test drive. "I told him, Todd this doesn't sound right, is everything okay. Yeah, yeah, I'm fine and he hangs up. It was really short, so I was kinda worried."

"Y'know we've got 75 salespeople at our dealership taking one or two test drives a day." United Ford President Bill Knight says it's rare, he knows of only one carjacking in his 8 years at United Ford. But that doesn't mean Tuesday's incident isn't disturbing. "When things happen like they happened yesterday, it gets us all to reflect a little bit, reminds us that it could happen to any one of us."

He says they tell their salespeople to make a copy of the customer's driver's license, to have a pre-determined route for the drive and to always let somebody know you're going. "That's something that we find is sometimes overlooked, to make sure someone actually knows that you're out with somebody. Y'know we have $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 vehicles that can be tempting to the wrong people."

Randy Oliver: "It's not going to be like it was 20 years ago. It's a new era, and we're just going to have to get customer's driver's licenses before they test drive cars."

The car salesman says the kidnappers also made him take some pills, but he's apparently okay. He was resting at a friend's house and his family is still scared.