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Reality repo show's stars seize property and fans' adoration
Cast of 'Lizard Lick Towing' will sign autographs this weekend at the the Fredericksburg Outdoor Show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center

 The cast of 'Lizard Lick Towing'--Ron Shirley, his wife, Amy, and Bobby Brantley--will appear at the Fredericksburg Expo Center this weekend.
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Date published: 3/18/2011

BY MARCIA A. CHIDESTER

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

Every week, 1.8 million viewers watch Ron Shirley repossess cars and other property on the truTV reality program "Lizard Lick Towing."

But sometimes they don't see the rest of the story.

Shirley has no moral quarrel with seizing a vehicle from someone who won't make the loan payments, he said.

But some cases--such as the mother with five children, no husband and, once the tow truck shows up, no car--stir up such compassion in Shirley, who is an ordained minister, that he returns to the family after the cameras stop rolling.

"What you see [on TV] are a few crazy scenes," said Shirley, 38. "What you don't see is when we go back with clothes and food to help the family, and get civic groups to help, too."

The show's repo team--Shirley; his wife, Amy, a mortician and world champion power lifter; and Bobby Brantley--will greet fans and sign autographs at the Fredericksburg Outdoor Show at the Fredericksburg Expo Center beginning today.

Shirley, owner of Lizard Lick Towing and Recovery in Lizard Lick, N.C., literally fell into the world of repo when a lightning bolt knocked him off the top of a two-story house during a roofing job. The fall ruined Shirley's knee and any chance to play collegiate football.

Instead, he went to work for his brother, a used-car-lot owner. One day, his brother asked him to repossess a car.

"I went and got it, and I was hooked," Shirley said.

Repossessing property is a mental chess game, he said.

"Their job is to hide a car; my job is to find it and get it," Shirley said.

Reality TV came knocking when producers of "Wife Swap" asked the Shirleys to appear on an episode. The couple turned down the offer.

But six months later, another producer offered Shirley and his repo team appearances in "All Worked Up," which showcases folks who deal with stressed-out customers.

Then came Shirley's own series, "Lizard Lick Towing."

The repossession harvest is diverse, ranging from deer to dialysis machines, trucks to hot tubs, airplanes to a seven-axle crane, Shirley said.

The on-camera property seizures often generate violent repercussions such as window smashing, fights and knife-wielding scuffles in Shirley's parking lot.


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WHAT: Fredericksburg Outdoor Show WHERE: Fredericksburg Expo Center, 2371 Carl D. Silver Parkway, Fredericksburg WHEN: Today, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. COST: Adults, $10; Children under 12 admitted free