BY: ANDREW COLTON/Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Her hands were behind her back being locked in handcuffs while her body was pressed against the Boca police car. Jennifer Salcito, 28 couldn’t believe what was happening. She had just left work at the AT&T store on NE5th Avenue and began to back out of her parking space in her rented red 2013 Dodge Avenger when a Boca Police Officer — already in the parking lot — activated his emergency lights. He approached the car. Identified Salcito. And immediately placed her under arrest.
The cop — who she acknowledges was just doing his job — said she was going to jail for not returning a rented vehicle. It wasn’t exactly “grand theft auto,” but it was close.
“I understand why I was arrested,” Salcito told BocaNewsNow.com in an exclusive interview. “They had a report that a girl stole a vehicle.”
The report was made by Hertz Car Rental (NYSE:HTZ) last Thursday in Boca Raton. Salcito, in a serious accident two months ago on Yamato Road, was provided a Hertz rental car through her insurer, GEICO. Salcito said that her GEICO representative assured her that the insurance company was handling the rental.
“I didn’t think I had to have contact with Hertz. When your car is damaged, GEICO gives you a rental. They never told me I needed to renew my contract every month. GEICO put me in the Hertz car just hours after the accident.”
With GEICO paying for both the car to be fixed and the rental, Salcito assumed that the insurer knew when the repairs were to be completed and provided that information to Hertz. Salcito said that she called her GEICO representative several times — for updates — over the two month repair process but rarely got through to her representative.
“I work at AT&T” she said. “I have copies of my phone records.”
Inexplicably, Hertz — just a few miles from Salcito’s AT&T store — never sent a branch representative to find the car after it wasn’t returned at the end of the first month. Salcito said it was in the AT&T parking lot almost every day. Hertz — which knew where she worked — also never called Salcito at work.
A police report states that Hertz hired “LD Investigations” to find and repossess the vehicle. LD investigations is the business name for “Lisa DiMattina” — a Hollywood resident whose LinkedIn page states she is a Hertz investigator. DiMattina — based in Hollywood — couldn’t find Salcito in Boca, even though Salcito was at the Boca AT&T store nearly every day. Instead, a local Hertz assistant manager — Ashley Trevisano — swore out an affidavit stating the car was stolen. Two hours later, Boca Raton Police found Salcito — and the car — in the parking lot of the AT&T store.
Hertz told police that a certified letter was sent to Salcito demanding return of the car. She denies ever receiving a letter from Hertz.
Hertz has not responded to our request for comment.
Salcito now faces a felony criminal charge of “failure to redeliver hired or leased property.” A trial date has yet to be set. She is looking for an attorney.
In the meantime, she finds it ironic that Hertz, which told police she stole the vehicle, is now debiting the checking account she provided as a GEICO backup for rental fees.
As for her almost eight hour stay in the Palm Beach County Jail:
“Jail was very humbling. I met some very nice, interesting people.”
She is not ruling out legal action.
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