Cleaned up, but cleaned out: Is your stuff safe? Contact 6 tests local full-service car washes

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MILWAUKEE — You pull into a garage and leave your car in the hands of a stranger. Will you leave with everything you came with? FOX6's Contact 6 went undercover at the car wash.

Driving this winter, it's impossible to avoid all the snow, slush and of course, the road salt.

The quick fix to getting all that salt and dirt off your car may involve a trip to the car wash. But are the people who are cleaning your car squeaky clean professionals?

"I've had things taken from my vehicle…binoculars, baseball gloves…expensive stuff — not the cheap stuff," said Robert Vasquez.

Often, the inside of your car is not clean. You leave change or a gift card just laying around. Contact 6 wanted to know if, after a trip to the car wash, anything would be cleaned out.

The Contact 6 team placed different items around a car.

The items included: Car1

  • Change in the front console
  • A USB cable and .50¢ in the center console
  • A $1 bill folded into the front passenger seat
  • A ring in the side of the door
  • An iPod Shuffle in the backseat

After placing the items, Contact 6 set up hidden cameras inside the vehicle and the Contact 6 producer hit the road.

The producer stopped at six local full-service car washes:

  • River Falls Car Wash in Menomonee Falls
  • Full Service Car Wash in Brookfield
  • West Allis Full Service Car Wash in Milwaukee on South 108th Street
  • Jimbo's in Milwaukee on Capitol Drive
  • Octopus in Milwaukee on North Green Bay Avenue
  • Express Auto Spa in Waukesha

An employee takes the dollar bill from the front passenger's seat.

The rest was in the hands of the employees.

At five of the six full-service car washes, the $1 bill was the hot ticket item.


An employee at River Falls Car Wash placed the dollar bill in the cup holder.

The employee at River Falls Car Wash grabbed the $1 bill, but didn't keep it. The employee moved it to the cup holder.

None of the car wash employees took the more expensive items, like the iPod.

After this test, Contact 6's Katrina Cravy contacted officials at all the car washes to tell them about the test.

Officials at River Falls were delighted.

"Great! I'm glad to hear that. We do try to hire decent employees," said Larry Houk, owner.

River Falls officials also issued a written statement. You can read that HERE.

Officials with the other car washes couldn't believe the results of this undercover test.

"I'm shocked, honestly," said John Becker, the owner of West Allis Full Service Car Wash.


Contact 6's Katrina Cravy gets reaction from Express Auto Spa.

"I just feel kind of disappointed because, you know, I trust all my guys," said Noah Gonzalez, a manager at Express Auto Spa.

"I'm very unpleased to hear that," said Kyle Dropik, a manager at Octopus.

Officials with Full Service Car Wash issued a written statement on the test. You can read that HERE.

All of these managers said they are going to take some action following this test.

"I don't stand for this at all," Becker said.

"I want people to trust us with their cars," Gonzalez said.

"Obviously, I have an issue here that I need to address," Dropik said.

Even though Contact 6 realizes it's just a dollar for the car wash owners and managers — it's bad business.

"It's unfortunate that you have one person that…ruins this whole reputation for you," Becker said.

"I just don't want people start thinking that we do this and they start not coming to our wash," Gonzalez said.

Contact 6 hopes you keep going to local car washes too.

If you have valuables in your car, take them with you.

"I'll always take all the expensive stuff out of my car, so that I won't have to worry about it later on," Vasquez said.

This will ensure a quick clean up doesn't cost you extra.

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