Convicted New Mexico thief accused of similar crimes in Texas

New Mexico News

Police in Texas say they are working with dozens of potential victims of Casey Harper.

Harper was convicted in Lovington three years ago of swindling people out of money using his body shop. He was caught once before, but police think he’s at it again.

Victims say Harper, who owned a repair shop in Lovington, would take money from them but never fix their cars. Now, victims in Texas are accusing him of the same thing.

“A lot of that was hard to prove,” said Lovington Police Detective David Miranda. 

The body shop Harper was running in New Mexico was called “Knucklehead’s Garage.”

“He would do business without contracts or bills of sale. He would take vehicle titles as security which would end up disappearing; the vehicles would end up disappearing,” said Detective Miranda.  

Over time, Lovington police received numerous reports of people claiming Harper stole from them. Then finally, they were able to charge him. 

“He was convicted in 2015 of false evidence of title or registration and forgery here in Lovington,” said Miranda.  

After being sentenced to probation, Miranda said a condition of his probation was to not be in business as a mechanic. Once that was up, he opened a shop in Texas. 

“He came out on a Saturday, looked at our vehicle, gave us an estimate and we were like, great, fine,” said Leslie Penny of Bay City, Texas. 

Penny said her classic car was in great shape when she gave it to Harper, but when she got it back the paint was sanded off.

Penny’s car was in worse shape than she left it, $3,200 later. 

“After two months of him having our vehicle, he never could show me that it was running,” said Penny. 

She contacted police and created a Facebook group. She said at least 50 victims from Texas to New Mexico have contacted her.

“His job is to con people and that really is what we’re showing here. I have victims that date back five, seven years,” she said.

Detective Miranda in Lovington said he began working with Seagraves Police, near Lubbock, because of the new claims. 

“The garage was even the same name,” said Miranda.

Penny said although she’ll likely never see her money again, she doesn’t want more people to fall victim to Harper. 

“There is that camaraderie that we have amongst us and maybe knowing that we’ll get some type of closure,” said Penny. 

Police in Texas just arrested Harper on burglary charges that stemmed from 1998.  

So far, he has not been charged in the Leslie Penny case, or any of the other complaints against his repair shop in Texas, but investigators say those charges are coming.

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