TAMPA, Fla. — Less than 24 hours after our previous report on the Better Call Behnken segment regarding a family’s stolen car being sold at an auction, they have now been reunited with their 2011 Ford Flex.
Aaron Barnes expressed his relief and gratitude upon receiving his vehicle back, stating, “It’s so rare for people to do the right thing. I’m incredibly happy to have it back. Cars are expensive these days, and I can’t afford to buy another one.”
The Barnes’ unique story resonated with viewers of Channel 8, who expressed concern for the family. Mr. Barnes discovered the car theft one week before his life-saving kidney transplant surgery, for which his wife was the donor.
They promptly reported the theft to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office before traveling to Jacksonville for the six-week surgery and recovery process.
While away, they received mail that a friend had picked up for them, which revealed that Autopros Towing & Recovery in Tampa had found the car abandoned at an apartment complex in Hillsborough County. However, the towing company insisted that the family had to pay to retrieve their vehicle.
“I called them and explained the situation,” Barnes recounted. “But they didn’t care. I’m hurt and disappointed that this is the kind of world we live in, where people simply don’t care anymore.”
Barnes contacted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, and although the detective reached out to the tow company, they were unsuccessful in resolving the matter. Upon returning to Tampa, Barnes and his wife were informed that the tow company had already auctioned off the car on June 5.
After Better Call Behnken reached out to Autopros staff, they received the same response initially. However, the story touched a nerve with viewers, drawing the attention of Autopros owner Eddie Roldan and manager Stefan Leone.
Roldan and Leone visited News Channel 8 to meet with Better Call Behnken and clarify the situation. They claimed it was a misunderstanding and confirmed that the car had not yet been sold.
They explained that their staff had relied on paperwork indicating the car’s availability for auction on June 5, but they still possessed the vehicle and intended to return it to the Barnes family without charge.
Roldan expressed his lack of awareness regarding the circumstances and promised to reeducate his staff. He stated, “Every situation is unique, but when individuals provide proof and support their claims, we are more than willing to cooperate with them. It was a misunderstanding, and we wanted to rectify it for the public.”
Unfortunately, the Ford Flex sustained damage during the time it was in the hands of the thieves. There are signs of attempted rim theft, the car is dirty, and there is a dent on the side. Barnes’ bag of dialysis equipment is also missing, but he doesn’t mind since he no longer requires it.
Barnes became emotional upon receiving the car back and learning about the overwhelming community support, which brought him to tears.
He expressed, “That means a lot to me because I didn’t… wow… I have no words. I didn’t expect any of this. I didn’t anticipate such a turnaround. In this day and age, it’s becoming increasingly rare for people to do the right thing.”
Autopros had one more surprise for the Barnes family: a $1,000 check to assist with their mounting medical bills.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the vehicle theft.