What are my options if a bar that I left my business equipmentinhas gone out of business and I can’t get back inside the building?

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What are my options if a bar that I left my business equipmentinhas gone out of business and I can’t get back inside the building?

I’m a DJ for local bars. In this case I have a set of PA speakers worth approx $2500 sitting in a bar that has gone out of business and the owners of the property have changed the locks so the original bar owner cannot get back on premises. The property owners left a name and contact number of a person on the window, however that person never answers their phone nor returns messages. I’m stuck at this point on what to do next. Report the equipment stolen to the police? Sue in small claims court for loss of use and my property? What are my options?

Asked on June 16, 2011 under Business Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have identified the two different options you have:

1) You can report the equipment as stolen, but be aware that while the police *should* intervene in a case like this, they often refuse to--even though illegally retaining your equipment is a crime, they will treat it as a civil dispute, since they want to focus on more socially serious and less ambiguous crimes, like drug use, assault, etc.

2) You can sue for the return of your equipment. Note that you may need to sue in civil court (i.e. country or municipal court), not the small claims section or court, since what you are suing for is injunctive relief--a court order that they let you get your equipment. You can still represent yourself if you like, but the rules are a bit stricter and the filing fees slightly more expensive. Contract your court's clerk's office and ask the clerk which court to file in; he or she will be able to tell you, and also point you to instructions, sample forms, etc.


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