Tampa Auto Customs closes, locks customers' cars inside

- Customers of an auto-customizing shop in Tampa want their cars back. They say they've been begging for weeks to have work on their vehicles finished, but on Monday, they say it appears the shop closed – permanently.

Their cars are still locked up inside.

Customers dropped their cars off for auto tinting or new speakers at Tampa Auto Customs, at North Florida and Fowler. Some of them gathered Thursday to call Tampa police from the Tampa Auto Customs driveway and file police reports.

"My bad luck brought me here about a week ago," Sam Bahloul said.

He says he brought his luxury car in to be wrapped. He says he paid a $2,000 cash deposit.

The owner, meanwhile, says he had to close for several reasons and promises to make things right.

The doors have been locked all week. On Thursday, people around the back of the building claimed to be doing work on their own cars.

The store's registered agent, Diana Cuellar, tells FOX 13 she closed due to issues with employees and her own personal issues. She insists customers will be given their cars back on Friday.

Slow car returns, she says, are only because one customer threatened her physically, so she's scheduling them one at a time.

Customer Herbert Bass isn't buying it.

"I paid a lot of money for the car and I do not know if my car is here or maybe traveling to Mexico or Canada," Bass said.

Girlene Brown says her son brought his car in for new rims in March. She says the owner has now blocked her phone number.

"He wants his car. He is making a car payment. He has no car," Brown said.

Tampa police confirmed they took statements and made a report, and officers are investigating.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Tampa Auto Customs closes, locks customers' cars inside
  • From war to whiskey, former Green Berets will open St. Pete distillery
  • Florida Poly hopes to change future of transportation with new research center
  • Tampa's flood control canal gets 50-year checkup
  • Power outage reported at Busch Gardens
  • Deputies: Bicyclist killed in hit-and-run in Brandon
  • Missing Hernando man found
  • Fiery hit-and-run crash causes $800k in damage
  • Candidates address red tide issues
  • Police want public to help nab golf cart thieves