Valley auto repair shops busted for operating illegally

FRESNO, Calif.

Undercover agents paid a visit to several auto repair shops in Fresno and Clovis this week cracking down on unlicensed businesses like the Los Dos Amigos. What they found could end up saving local car owners a lot of time and more importantly money.

Juan Islas' car hasn't started in months. The cobwebs surrounding his Chrysler sedan show just how long it's been sitting in the parking lot. Islas tried taking it to this auto repair shop in Central Fresno back in March. The owner promised to fix it if Islas agreed to pay half the money up front. Islas gave him $250. But two weeks later he noticed something wrong with his car.

"We go pick the car up, it wasn't turning out or nothing. I turned the key. It was not on. It didn't come one. The guy wasn't there, missing my calls. Ignoring my calls. I didn't know what was going on so I had to pay money to get the car from the shop back home and still back to square one again. Not working." said Islas.

Islas ended up forking over another $65 to tow the car back to his West Central Fresno apartment. And to make things worse he says the shop's owner, Omar Lopez also took his stereo deck.

The Bureau of Automotive Repair cited Lopez Wednesday for operating without a license.

"For whatever reason they're choosing not to comply."

Bureau of Automotive Repair supervisor Micheal Bolten says some shop owners try to get by without a license. This bureau photo shows a business with an expired license. Others have been caught with a fictitious license number on their business cards. Bolten says a good licensed repair shop won't ask you to pay for a repair before it's completed.

"If you go and request repairs, they're required by law to provide you with a written estimate. They're required by law if you ask for all your parts back. They're required to give those parts back to you." said Bolten.

We went to the repair shop in Central Fresno. He wasn't there so we called him. Lopez denied ever being in the repair business. But this photo by the bureau proves otherwise with writing on the side wall that says "Lopez Auto Repair." This one shows work being done on a black Lincoln Navigator. That SUV hasn't moved from its original spot.

The Fresno District Attorney's office says owners who are cited for not having a license could face a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

"The citation process that we're doing this is new to us. We haven't issued citations before. So we're hoping that this being brought to the attention of the individuals that are not compliant will get their attention." said Bolten.

If you're uncertain about the difference between a licensed and unlicensed shop.

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