Chicago Police DepartmentSpecial Order S04-26-03
Issue Date:25 March 1988Effective Date:26 March 1988
Index Category:Preliminary Investigations
This directive provides procedures relating to the repossession of motor vehicles and other personal property.
II.The Law
  • A.Repossessions are civil in nature but can precipitate the commission of criminal or quasi-criminal offenses. Illinois law provides that a seller retains an interest in sold property until full payment is tendered to him by the buyer. Unless otherwise agreed by the seller and buyer, the seller has the right to repossess the property if payment is not received according to the terms of the contract. The seller may repossess the property without giving the buyer notice and without judicial approval or court order if the repossession can be done "without breach of peace." (810 ILCS 5/9‑503)
  • B.A breach of the peace includes any conduct violating any statute or ordinance. Attempting to repossess property over the objection of a person at the scene with a possessory interest in the property or entering into private dwellings or enclosed structures is sufficient to constitute a breach of the peace.
  • A.Officers encountering incidents relative to repossessions of property will:
    • 1.establish the identity of the person taking possession of the property and that persons authority to repossess it.
    • 2.establish the identity of any person at the scene disputing the taking of the property and that persons possessory interest in the property. (Possessory interest includes that of the actual buyer who is allegedly delinquent in payments or a third person who is legitimately and actually in possession of the property as authorized by the buyer.)
    • 3.if a person with a possessory interest is at the scene objecting to the repossession, i.e., before repossession has been completed, advise the repossessor that he should resort to legal process to enforce his right to repossession. (Repossession can be properly completed only if the property can be successfully removed from the scene of the repossession without objection by a person at the scene with a possessory interest, without entering into private dwellings or enclosed structures, and without violating any statute or ordinance.)
    • 4.if the person with a possessory interest had to pursue the repossessor and the property from the scene of the repossession in order to voice his objection (providing no objection was made at the scene of repossession), advise the buyer or other person with a possessory interest that he should seek legal advice for any further action.
    • 5.if other property is attached to or contained within the property legally repossessed, advise the owner to seek legal assistance to recover that property through civil remedies.
  • B.Officers normally will not interfere with the civil aspects of repossessions and will confine their activities to keeping the peace. If an arrest becomes necessary, the preferred procedure is to secure signed complaints.
  • C.When a repossessor has resorted to legal process to enforce his right to repossession, a member of the Cook County Sheriffs Department, Civil Division, will enforce any court order (i.e., Writ of Replevin, Forcible Entry Order) obtained by the repossessor. The repossessor cannot enforce the order by himself. If necessary, a supervisor from the Sheriffs Department can be contacted on a 24 hour basis by calling their Radio Communications Center.
LeRoy Martin
Superintendent of Police
87-057 FGP(AJB)