The owner of Airport Auto Body was arrested on Feb. 1 and charged with five counts of malicious damage after police viewed video surveillance of him “keying” cars at Stevie D’s Automotive at 250 Oakland Beach Ave. in Warwick. Anthony Lombardi, 72, of 45 Gage St., also in Warwick, was arrested at his home around 9:30 p.m.
Stephen Davis called police after he viewed some surveillance video after five more of his cars had been keyed recently and recognized Lombardi who was caught on surveillance camera keying the cars at the dealership.
Davis explained to police that he used to send bodywork to Lombardi’s shop as a kind of informal arrangement between mechanics and other shops.
“Somebody sends work to your shop, you send work to theirs,” Davis said yesterday. “It’s a pretty common thing.”
But Davis said he was outraged when he learned that Lombardi was keying the cars to make work for his shop, which is not accepted professional courtesy among automotive businesses.
Although a scratch on a fender may seem like minor damage, the deep gouges caused with keys require a good deal of work to repair. Davis said sanding, priming, matching colors and creating “invisible” repairs is labor intensive, averaging $1,500 per repair.
But it isn’t just the $7,500 in damage that Lombardi is being charged with.
“I’ve had 35 cars keyed in the last two and a half years, 20 within the last year, and he is only being charged with five of them?” asked Davis.
Davis explained that his insurance has gone up since the key incidents started adding up.
“I used to pay $10,000 a year for insurance for that,” he said. “I now pay $24,000 and I don’t even file a claim because I know it’ll go up more.”
Davis said the insurance does cover the whole business, but he now pays almost 150 percent more for insurance because of the vandalism.
“That’s money he took out of my pocket, from my family,” he said sourly, “and he is getting charged with misdemeanors?”
Aside from being “malicious damage,” Davis said it was a very stupid thing to do. Lombardi’s shop also does work for Avis and that work will dry up after Lombardi’s shop loses its license to do business in Rhode Island.
Davis said Lombardi owns at least two other businesses in Warwick, New England Lemonade and a collectible card shop on West Shore Road, and it is hard to see how they wouldn’t be affected by these charges.
“This guy had no vision,” said Davis, who has sent the five cars that were damaged to three other auto body shops to be repaired.