Police seized the business records of a South Salt Lake car repair firm Friday following numerous complaints from dissatisfied customers.

Hundreds of repair orders were taken from Budget Rate Auto, 2338 S. Main, following a sting operation, said South Salt Lake Police Detective Joe Bennett. An undercover police officer took an unmarked car needing minor adjustments to Budget Rate Auto just before Christmas. According to police reports, the repair firm kept the car for nine days and charged $572 for replacement parts and labor. Another car repair shop, however, believes Budget never carried out the work.The police department sent a second unmarked car to Budget, this time with a disabled spark plug. This repair cost $360.

"This is one of the worst cases of consumer fraud I've seen," Bennett said. The department plans to contact Budget customers to learn more about the company's business practices.

Abdi Tinwalla of Salt Lake City, one former customer contacted by police, told the Deseret News he took his car to Budget Rate Auto when it wouldn't start in the morning. Budget kept the car five days and charged him $230 to fix the starter, he said.

The next day, the car again refused to start.

Tinwalla took the vehicle back to Budget and was told it had a faulty flywheel and would cost another $300 to $400 to repair.

"I was so angry," Tinwalla said. "I wasn't satisfied with their answer at all, and I wasn't going to waste any more money. I took my car to another mechanic, who replaced a part in the starter, and the car runs fine now."

Tinwalla also hired an attorney to talk to Budget about his grievances, and the repair shop refunded Tinwalla $100.

Workers at Budget feel they are being victimized. "When you're in the automotive business, you're going to get complaints," said a man at the business named Dennis, who would not give his last name. "We have nothing to hide; we're not doing anything wrong," he said in a telephone interview Friday evening. "I don't see we have anything to apologize for. We're a little shop doing mechanic work. If we're lucky, we'll pay our bills.

"We're down here trying to make a living, but when the police came in today, you'd think we were dealing in cocaine or something. We feel we're in a vulnerable position, so we just want to let it lay until we can talk to our lawyer. I will say this, though; a lot of mistakes have been made. This whole thing is a bunch of baloney."

Budget Rate Auto is the last in a long line of auto repair stores occupying 2338 S. Main. Customers have had similar problems with the previous car shops.

Cory Parkin, of Murray, took his 1950 Jeep into Daniel James Automotive to be rebuilt last March. He got the Jeep back two days before Thanksgiving. It had no motor, the engine compartment was gutted, and the frame was completely rusted.

While Parkin was awaiting the return of his Jeep, the car repair shop had several owners and names. Each owner assured Parkin his Jeep was being worked on.

However, last November Parkin was contacted by a woman who said she owned the property and needed Parkin to come and pick up his Jeep since the latest car repair shop had gone out of business and she needed the premises vacated so she could rent it again.

"I wanted the Jeep painted, the dents banged out and the motor rebuilt," Parkin said. "But I paid $1,500 and got nothing back."