TEANECK — The first thing that crossed Tarikh Campbell's mind was that his rental car could have been impounded.
Well, there was that moment just before that when he could conjure no rational thought and simply "freaked out."
Campbell, 33, walked out of his childhood home on Iris Court at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 14, to find that the 2020 Toyota Camry was missing. Having ruled out that it was seized by local law enforcement, there was only one other possibility he could think of.
Was it stolen?
Campbell's fit of torment has now turned into a bizarre and unending ordeal. He claims the actual culprit is none other than Avis, the same company that rented the car to him at Newark Liberty International Airport the day before.
Campbell went public with his grudge against Avis in a Twitter rant on Friday morning, claiming the company repossessed the car without telling him and that he has proof.
"I feel very dodged and misled by Avis customer service," said Campbell, an executive for Microsoft Corp. who now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Campbell said he immediately called police when he realized the vehicle could have been stolen, but an officer suggested that he first contact Avis to see if the car had a GPS tracker.
After waiting on hold for an hour, Campbell said, an agent told him there was no such equipment in the car and that he should file a stolen vehicle report with police, which the Teaneck Police Department said he did.
At 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 15, less than seven hours before he was scheduled to fly back to Boston, Campbell tried to fall asleep. His rental car was still nowhere to be found.
He was picked up by Lyft later that morning and taken to Newark airport in a $50 ride.
Campbell said he gave back the car keys to an Avis representative, who told him that he would be charged late fees and held liable for damages until the vehicle was returned.
An E-ZPass transponder was what ultimately cracked the case, according to Campbell.
He had used his own device in the car; when he viewed its most recent activity online, he saw that it had pinged at toll booths along the New Jersey Turnpike between Teaneck and the airport.
Story continues below Twitter post.
TRAVELER BEWARE! Have you ever had a rental car company steal their car back from you? Well this just happened to me. I’m not usually one to take to Twitter in this way. I’m barely ever here. But I feel this is my only option short of taking legal action. So here goes
— Tarikh Campbell (@tarikhcampbell) August 20, 2021
"What a coincidence that a thief would take it there," he mused on social media.
Then, his aunt called with something more.
She lives on the same block as Campbell's parents, and a surveillance camera mounted to her home appears to have captured footage at 10:08 p.m. on Aug. 14 of the car being towed.
"For some ungiven reason," he wrote to his Twitter followers, "@Avis sent a tow truck to repossess the vehicle and return it to their lot. I had no tickets or infractions, while using the vehicle."
A spokeswoman for Avis, a 75-year-old company with some 5,500 locations worldwide, said the situation was being investigated. The company is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group Inc., based in Parsippany-Troy Hills.
Campbell said his posts to social media finally garnered attention from Avis, as an agent contacted him on Friday night. He said the company offered a full refund and "additional compensation" to cover other costs that he incurred to resolve the issue.
The worst part of all, Campbell said, was not $90 in late fees that he was asked to pay for the $123 rental car or the countless phone calls to Avis trying to get this resolved – it was how his family worried about a possible car theft in the quiet neighborhood.
"The stress that was caused," he said. "That's really what I'm looking to redress now."
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NJ man says Avis towed vehicle without telling him