His problems could continue to grow as more customers come out of the woodwork.
From what Sandusky police can gather, Vanvlerah, owner of Hometown Car Sales on West Monroe Street, purchased cars wholesale from dealers, as well as accepted cars from friends to sell on consignment, Sandusky police Detective Gary Wichman said.
He would allegedly sell those vehicles to his customers without first transferring their titles to his car dealership.
Vanvlerah ran into problems when he began altering customers’ buyer agreements and failing to hand over titles after a maximum 30-day waiting period, which is mandated by Ohio law, Wichman said.
Customers either never received titles, or they received them months later. Meanwhile, the brokers who sold Vanvlerah vehicles did not receive their payments on time, or at all, Wichman said.
“Brian maybe spent that money, and that’s how he fell behind. He’s basically been robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Wichman said.
Wichman is working with Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle employees to investigate at least a dozen other similar complaints.
“This kind of fly-by-night operation is bad for the community,” Wichman said.
Vanvlerah’s alleged actions have already caused additional grief for two local residents.
On Tuesday, one man was cited for having fictitious plates while driving his grandmother’s car, which she purchased from Hometown Car Sales. Wichman said prosecutors are looking to rectify the citation, but in the meantime, the woman is unable to access her vehicle, as she doesn’t have possession of the title. Without the title, she cannot retrieve the vehicle from an impound lot, Wichman said.
Most complaints filed against Vanvlerah center around title transfers, but other issues are cropping up, too.
One man allegedly paid Vanvlerah for a brake job on his son’s car. As the son was driving his car to college, the brakes went out. A reputable repairman later told the owner there was no sign of repair work ever being done.
“That could’ve been fatal,” Wichman said.
Wichman also said Vanvlerah’s permit to sell vehicles will be suspended until a board can review the case.
“His troubles are going to keep piling up,” Wichman said. “This is the kind of poison we don’t want in our community.”