GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Lupe Harwood has been an ACS certified technician for over 14 years. He’s worked for numerous local dealerships in the Grand Rapids area and currently makes a living buying, fixing and re selling old cars.
But that’s now much harder to do, after he literally watched thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment walk out of his garage.
Along with fixing up cars Lupe sells for income, he also enjoys helping friends and family when they need automotive help. That’s exactly what he did for Carlos Sain, an acquaintance identified by Harwood and police, who came to Lupe for help when trying to sell a few cars himself.
When the cars didn’t sell, Sain again asked Lupe for a favor. One slightly less savory than a simple brake pad replacement or oil change.
“He called me and said he can’t sell them,” said Harwood. “He wanted me to change out the dash clusters to put lower mileage on them so he could sell them. I told him I’m not doing that. That’s illegal. I’m not getting involved in that.”
Then, Harwood didn’t hear from Sain for nearly four months. Until he saw him again – this time on security camera footage captured on his newly installed home security system.
Harwood was at the park, and got a notification to his phone alerting him the cameras had detected movement. He phones his wife, who was at home in the basement, and instructed her to stay inside and call the police.
In the video Sain can be seen pulling up in his truck, bed completely empty. The first thing he does: begin ripping the handles off the door of a car parked outside Harwood’s home – a car that belonged to Harwood’s nephew.
After allegedly vandalizing several other vehicles, Sain goes for the Harwood’s family dog – a Chihuahua puppy. Yanking and pulling the dog’s leash, Sain loads the canine into his truck before returning and heading for the garage, which Harwood said was locked.
He enters a blind spot, but can be seen putting something into his back pocket as he walks away. Over the next few minutes, Sain and an unknown female can be seen making trips from the garage to his truck, toting air compressors, heaters, diagnostic tools, and much more – all belongings of Harwood.
When police finally arrive, they confront Sain and are met by Harwood’s wife. Sain tells authorities he is a business partner of Harwood, while Harwood’s wife protests.
“No money was ever passed from one hand to another - no profits were ever made out of anything,” said Harwood. “Not a dime was earned between the both of us. If anyone profits, it’s him.”
Police made Sain return the dog, but he drives off with all the equipment removed from the garage. As of now, authorities have closed their case, classifying this as a civil issue. Sain will not face any charges. Harwood feels Sain got off too easy.
“I want to see him prosecuted,” he said. “I think it was wrong that he broke into my garage. I think it was wrong that he stole my stuff.”
“The money might be a civil issue, but not the minute you invaded my privacy and you broke into my property, and you vandalized vehicles.”
Harwood and his wife say they plan to go back to police to recant their statement, allowing the investigation to be reopened as a criminal case.
“Nobody should have the right to do that, and GRPD knows there were laws broken here,” said Harwood, “and I think what happened was they really assumed this garage was open and he was a business partner and just getting some stuff. And actually what they did was assisted him in ripping me off.”
“Don’t listen to me, watch the video! A video says a thousand words. I don’t have to say [anything]. You can say, ‘man he’s breaking into that guys stuff…look at what they did to that dog, look what they’re doing to that car.’ Don’t listen to me - but you determine whether that’s a civil matter or not.”