PIKEVILLE, N.C. — Some local police departments jumped at the chance to buy patrol cars for next to nothing last year. All they had to do was display advertisements, similar to the ones seen in NASCAR. The departments realize that deal was too good to be true.
The town of Pikeville has a small police force with just two full-time officers and two well-worn patrol cars.
"They're piecemealed together a lot of times just to stay together on the road for us," Pikeville Police Chief Ken Barrett said.
The department thought it found a way to solve the problem. A Charlotte-based company called Government Acquisitions Inc. offered a special deal. They would sell new patrol cars for just $1 each. In exchange, each car would display advertising logos.
Middlesex police in Nash County thought it was the perfect solution for them, too.
"It would give us more vehicles per officer, so we'll have better coverage around town," Middlesex Police Chief Charles Ferrell said.
"We had the contracts sent to us, and we signed them and had them sent back and we're just in a waiting game," Barrett said.
The problem is they have been waiting for more than a year.
At least 15 agencies in North Carolina alone signed up for the deal with Government Acquisitions. So far, none have received patrol cars. No one can seem to get in touch with anyone from the company. It still has a working Web site, but phone calls go to an answering machine.
The departments WRAL spoke with said calls are never returned. Pikeville police are worried because their cars just rolled over 150,000 miles.
"Our budgets just can't afford newer cars right this minute," Barrett said.
Many departments are now looking for other ways to squeeze cars into tight budgets. They hope to find a deal before these cruisers give out.
WRAL also tried several times to get in touch with Government Acquisitions Inc., but those phone calls were not returned either.