NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The Avis-Budget Group has released a statement about an investigation into stolen rental cars and a South Carolina lawmaker who said he received a bill for more than $20,000.
The car rental company issued the following statement on Friday afternoon:
Avis Budget Group has terminated the person responsible and is addressing issues directly with customers who have been affected.
The statement follows a report Wednesday that Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston County), who rented a car for a few days in January, was billed more than $20,000 in damages.
Gilliard said he returned the car without a scratch.
When he couldn’t get answers from Avis-Budget officials, Gilliard said his next step was to contact Charleston International Airport and Charleston County Aviation Authority Police. .
The investigation revealed that a number of rental cars had been reported stolen and led to the arrest of two men.
Gilliard said he wanted to know how many others were caught up in the situation.
He said when he couldn’t get answers from Budget-Avis officials, Gilliard reached out to contacts at Charleston International Airport to investigate. Airport police checked security cameras and investigated.
A police report says they suspected an employee had taken the car without reconnecting it.
Police discovered that a number of rental cars had been reported stolen. Last month, two men were arrested on multiple counts.
Domaneck Dixon is charged with 18 counts of grand larceny worth $10,000 or more, and Luther Antonio Smith has been charged with five counts of possession of a stolen vehicle, jail records show.
Gilliard has also asked the state’s Division of Law Enforcement to look into the matter, sending a formal request to agency director Mark Keel on Thursday.
SLED released the following statement:
SLED has received a letter from Representative Gilliard regarding an incident at Charleston Airport. Upon review, this incident was investigated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority Police Department and resulted in an arrest. No assistance from SLED has been requested by Chief Chris Helms at this time.
Gilliard says he wants to know how many more people have been caught in this situation. He says that even if someone was arrested for the theft, the company should be held accountable for threatening letters sent by collection agencies.
“If anyone anywhere had insurance for something they thought they had done then they better take a look, that’s my warning,” he said. Gilliard said.
The lawmaker said he was also working on a way to create a law that makes rental car companies more accountable for protecting customers.
As of this week, airport police said the matter was still under investigation.
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