Local couple loses thousands after mechanic burns up SUV - KMOV.com

Local couple loses thousands after mechanic burns up SUV

HIGHLAND, Ill. (KMOV) -- A Highland couple is in a dispute with a car dealer and mechanic after their SUV reportedly burned up when they left it to be repaired.

Tiffany Cooper and her boyfriend bought a van in February because their old Ford Explorer needed a new engine.

They bought the van at Landmark Auto Sales in Collinsville.

When the manager heard the Explorer needed a new engine, he said he could help.

“I said I know places and I know people who do cars, put the motors in,” said Leighton Wekter, a manger at Landmark.

“They had me assuming that the person was employed by them, that he did their engine work, that was the only reason why I was going ahead with it,” said Cooper.

She paid a mechanic $1,300 dollars for a new engine for the old SUV.

The mechanic started on the job in a shed right next to Landmark Auto.

A week later, Tiffany got a call from the car dealership.

“He called and told me there had been a fire,” she said.

The mechanic had left his shop light on in the SUV all weekend long and it had caught fire.

The Explorer was a total loss.

Wekter says he’s sorry about the fire, but claims it is not Landmark’s responsibility.

“All we did was borrow the guy, the shed and introduce the people,” he said.

Cooper and her boyfriend said they cannot believe they’ve lost their money and SUV.

“They had the engine and they took the truck across the street to scrap it,” said Cooper.

Wekter says he feels bad, but insists he was just trying to do a favor.

“I come from a small town you know, I try to treat people decently,” he said. “I saw she was in a spot so I offered her a service from another guy who does service for me.  It wasn’t our company.”

The mechanic who took the money could not be reached by News 4, but Wekter says he’s out of work.

The Coopers want their money back and a vehicle to replace their old explorer. They say they’ll even take one without an engine.

News 4’s Mike Colombo talked with the Illinois attorney general’s office that looked into the case. A spokesman says the office’s attempts to mediate the dispute were unsuccessful.

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