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'They smashed my car': Government contractor wrecks SUV despite pleas it is not abandoned

'They smashed my car': Government contractor wrecks SUV despite pleas it is not abandoned

ABANDONED VEHICLE: In this Aug. 13, 2020, file photo, a contractor uses a payloader to help the Chalan Pago Mayor's Office remove abandoned vehicles in the village. An incident in Agana Heights on Thursday resulted in the smashing and removal of a car that the owner said is still running and is not an abandoned vehicle. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

When Zavier Blas got out of his house around noon Thursday, he saw his Honda CRV being smashed by a contractor that the Agana Heights Mayor's Office hired to remove abandoned vehicles around the village.

It's certainly not an abandoned vehicle, Blas said, because it's running and operational.

"They smashed my car even after I said it's not an abandoned vehicle," he said, still in shock and upset about the incident.

His Honda CRV was a birthday gift from his mother, he said.

It was parked across the street from their property on Luna Avenue.

Blas, 18, just started his family and has a 7-month-old son. The Honda CRV is precious to him and his family and he was preparing to update the car ownership and registration, he said.

"I was inside my house and my mother-in-law called me outside to tell me that they're destroying my car so I went outside to check. And I saw the truck dude smashing my car," he said.

The contractor, he said, told him to "take it up to the mayor" after he asked for the smashing to stop.

Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald said his office hired J.J. Moving Service to remove abandoned vehicles, but couldn't say for sure whether the Honda CRV was on the list of abandoned vehicles that his office identified for removal.

Glen Makepeace, general manager for J.J. Moving Service, said they only pick up the vehicles that were identified by the mayor's staff.

"There is a person going around, from the mayor's office, and says this is the one because they know exactly where they are located so they go out and identify which one it is," he said.

He said some 30 vehicles were picked up from Agana Heights, and among them is a Honda CRV.

"Like I said, we just simply take what's being identified. In order to make as many as possible fit on the trailer, we have to smash them, make them flat so that it's safe to stack them up on the trailer," Makepeace said.

Makepeace referred further questions about the matter to the Agana Heights Mayor's Office.

The mayor said the vehicle is on someone else's private property, and the owner of the property asked that the vehicle be moved. McDonald said the vehicle's registration expired.

"Is it registered? Is the registration up to date? Is he the registered owner? Do they have safety detail? Do they have an updated license plate?" the mayor said when asked whether the vehicle is on the list of vehicles scheduled to be removed. "That's the problem. People just park everywhere and it's not registered."

Blas, for his part, said he wished the contractor considered his plea to stop destroying what was otherwise a working vehicle.

Within minutes, he said, his vehicle was gone.

He said his family is working on filing a formal complaint.

Blas said his mother bought the vehicle from another person who had been off island and just recently moved back.

After the previous owner was quarantined and may have tested positive for the coronavirus, Blas said, the process of transferring ownership of the Honda CRV and updating the registration got further held up.

He said he parked his vehicle across the street from their property, where others also parked their vehicles.

Near the area on Luna Avenue, there's an abandoned Toyota Corolla, he said.

"And he decided to take my Honda CRV," Blas said.

Mayors' Council of Guam Executive Director Angel Sablan said this is the first time an incident like this has happened.

Mayors have started removing abandoned vehicles with the recent release of initial purchase orders worth $500,000, as part of the government's islandwide recycling and beautification efforts.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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