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CBS Legal Analyst: Valet Company Responsible For Letting Thief Take O.C. Man's Car

NEWPORT BEACH ( — On Wednesday evening, KCAL9 reported on the story of an Orange County man who went to drive home following a meal at Joe's Crab Shack in Newport Beach, only to find out that his car was given to a thief by the valet.

Josh Gelle and his girlfriend were stunned that the thief was able to take Gelle's 2014 CX-9 Mazda without a ticket.

"We have our ticket," Gelle says. "How could someone get our car without a ticket?"

On Thursday, CBS2's Amy Johnson spoke to the couple as well as CBS2 and KCAL9 legal analyst Steve Meister who says LAZ Valet is liable and responsible.

"The story we were given," says Gelle, "is that some guy showed up in a taxi cab, drunk, got out and said his name was Josh and pointed at my car and they gave it to him."

Gelle also said the story he was given changed several times. It prompted his girlfriend to take out a cellphone and start recording.

The couple says that by the time the police arrived, the valet who gave away Gelle's car was gone.

Meister says: "The company is responsible. Period. The company has to make the people whose car was given away whole again."

Even if the little slip of paper they hand you said the company is not responsible, he says.

LAZ has paid for Gelle's rental car and gave him money to change his locks.

The company released a statement that reads in part: "Regrettably, it appears our company policies and procedures were not properly followed, and we have apologized and are actively supporting the customer whose vehicle was affected. We take this incident very seriously and once we have completed our review of the incident, will act accordingly."

Johnson on Thursday spoke to the Newport Beach Police who says their investigation into the theft is continuing.

They also said all law-enforcement officers are on the lookout for the vehicle. Police also say they are working with the restaurant, the valet company and the valet driver to get an accurate description of the suspect.

The police are also hoping the man's likeness was captured on surveillance video of a nearby business.

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