Vagrants set fire to cars in dealership lot, manager says

Group of homeless people were living on property before business moved in

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Three vehicles at a family-run Broward car dealership were torched less than week after the business opened. The general manager said a group of homeless people are to blame.

Jack Cabrera, general manager of National Auto Sales, said about five men had been camping out on the property before his dealership moved into the vacant lot in the 4900 block of State Road 7 near Hollywood.

"They've been hostile since we even stepped on the property to look at it," Cabrera said. 

On Sunday, dealership employees called Hollywood police to have the squatters moved. But, Cabrera said, the homeless people argued with officers and threatened his employees, saying, "We'll be back." 

When employees returned to the lot Monday morning, three cars, including a BMW, had been burned. Cabrera estimated the fire caused about $30,000 worth of damage.

"Absolutely turned into nothing but dust," he said of the cars. "We have metal left and that's it."

On Tuesday, the property still showed signs of the squatters. A small pile of trash and a pillow had been left behind and one person was still sleeping on the lot.

"I understand where they are at in life. I understand how rough it can be," Cabrera said.  "But at the end of the day, we are a family business and we had to work hard to get where we are at, very hard, so it's not fair to try and take something away from somebody because you don't know how hard they've worked for it."