ORLANDO, Fla. – A Budget rental car customer is demanding answers after deputies pulled him over because his rented car had a stolen license plate.
Brad Hovis said he and a friend were driving back to Cape Canaveral from St. Augustine on Sunday when they were pulled over by several deputies with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
"They have their guns. They have us put our hands on the dashboard," Hovis said. "They pull us out and handcuff us."
Hovis said it didn't take long to find out why.
"The issue was, they had rented us a car with stolen license plates," he said.
Hovis said he rented the Ford Mustang from the Budget rental counter at Orlando International Airport on July 23.
A picture he took of the car that day shows it had a license plate number CTR-D01.
According to the report filed by St. Johns investigators, that license plate was reported stolen out of Orange County.
Deputies said they determined Hovis and his friend had nothing to do with it, but Hovis said the damage was already done.
The car had to be towed from the location, and Hovis said he had to travel to Jacksonville in order to get a replacement car to drive back to Cape Canaveral.
"Why is there no oversight?" he asked. "Why don't they check the cars in Orlando International Airport when they're coming in and going out?"
Hovis said no one from Budget would return his calls until News 6 got involved.
On Monday night, he said he received a call from Budget, but he said he's not satisfied with the answers he's getting.
A day after this story ran, Budget spokeswoman Alice Pereira sent this statement from Budget to News 6:
We have looked into the matter and found that we correctly tagged the vehicle in question with its registered license plate. At some point prior to this customer's rental, the car’s license plate was stolen and replaced with one that belonged to a stolen vehicle that was of a similar make, model and color as ours. We were not aware of this until this incident occurred. We have apologized to the customer for any inconvenience this may have caused and have worked with him directly to reach a resolution.
We have been in business for more than 70 years, and in 2017 alone, we completed more than 39 million rental transactions. This type of situation is an anomaly and not typical of our service. We are reviewing our practices and will make any necessary adjustments to ensure that this does not happen again.