Man’s Jeep stolen from dealership in south Fort Myers

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Derrick Shaw
A 2020 Jeep Sahara was stolen from a car dealership in Lee County. (CREDIT: WINK News)

A Jeep was stolen while it was being painted at the dealership.

The Jeep’s owner Joe Prendota said the dealership, Galeana Chrysler Dodge Jeep on Tamiami Trail, told him it’s not their problem.

Prendota signed a waiver that says the dealership is not liable for any lost or stolen items from inside the vehicle. There is usually also a clause for what happens if the vehicle disappears.

That’s the situation Prendota finds himself in now.

Prendota said the dealership didn’t tell him the Jeep was gone until two days after it disappeared from the car lot.

Prendota said he took the his 2020 Jeep Sahara to the Galeana dealership for a paint job on Monday, Feb. 14 but when he called the dealership a little more than a week later to see if it was ready, they told him someone would return his call.

“The guy calls me back about two hours later and then tells me ‘we can’t find your Jeep did somebody come pick it up?’ And I wouldn’t, you know, nobody came to pick it up. It’s there for a paint job. ‘Well, we don’t know where it’s at. We can’t find it at all. We’ve been looking everywhere,'” Prendota, of Cape Coral, said.

Prendota said he had to call the dealership to be told that his car was gone.

“And I said well, then you need to call the police. And that’s when they called the police. I left work went there and follow the report,” Prendota said.

According to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, an employee who works at Galeana told detectives they went to service the car on Monday, Feb. 21 but could not find it. No one called Prendota or the sheriff’s office.

The same thing happened on Feb. 22 and 23.

“I called them. And that’s when they told me Wednesday afternoon that was gone. They never called me,” Prendota said.

WINK News called the dealership to find out what happened.

General Manager Joe Owens said he hadn’t heard about the length of time between realizing the Jeep was gone and when it was reported to law enforcement.

“Until you shared that information with me that’s the first I’m hearing about it,” Owens said. “That’s normally the first thing we do, we do our due diligence, make sure no one else moved it with 150 employees.”

Owens told WINK News a second car was stolen from the lot at Galeana. He said Galeana has all of the intentions of making the situation right and getting Prendota a new vehicle to make up for what happened.

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