The creditor may instruct the Sheriff to seize, store and sell a
vehicle in the possession of the debtor. However, the Sheriff cannot
enter a private place such as a garage to seize the vehicle without
a private place order issued by the court pursuant to CCP 699.030.
Property that is not in the possession of the debtor cannot be
seized if the Sheriff determines that the property is the possession
of a third party and not in the possession of the debtor.
The Sheriff must notify the vehicle’s legal owner
of the seizure. A legal owner (bank, credit union, etc.) may file
a third party claim based on a security interest (loan) with an
unpaid balance. The vehicle must be returned to the debtor unless
the creditor pays off the claim. The minimum sale price at the Sheriff’s
auction is $1900 if the vehicle is the only vehicle registered to
the debtor. Otherwise, the Sheriff will sell the vehicle to the
highest bidder. The debtor may claim an exemption if the debtor
is an individual (not a corporation or partnership). The Sheriff
will mail to the creditor any claim of exemption and instructions
on how to oppose the exemption. The creditor should weigh the feasibility
of levying on a vehicle and take into consideration Sheriff’s fees
and costs (approximately $1500), any outstanding balance owed the
legal owner and the amount of any exemption. The creditor may bid
at the auction by applying any or all of the creditor’s judgment.
However, the creditor’s judgment cannot be applied to the first
$1900 if a minimum bid is required. All bidders at the auction are
advised that the Sheriff is only selling all right, title and interest
of the debtor in the property.