What is the best way to retrieve personal belongings from an ex-boyfriend’s house?

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What is the best way to retrieve personal belongings from an ex-boyfriend’s house?

A friend moving out of her ex-boyfriend’s house. She is trying to take furniture that she owns and purchased herself but he refuses to let her. Additionally he has threatenedto call the police if she does while he is not home and report her for trespassing. In the alternative he said that he will burn it/destroy it himself if she tries to report anything. He is a police officer in a neighboring town and has many friends within the force of their city, a relatively small one. Are the police the right people to call here or seek out a lawyer?

Asked on July 19, 2011 Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Probably the best thing is for her to consult with an attorney. The attorney can bring an action for what is known as "injunctive relief," or a court order forcing the ex-boyfriend to return the goods. As part of that, he can seek a temporary restraining order to force the ex-boyfriend to not destroy, damage, move, sell, etc. the belongings while the ownership of them is being determined. And if he does destroy anything provably hers, the attorney can sue for its value. The thing she should *not* do is attempt to retrieve the belongings herself--she would definitely be trespassing, might be breaking and entering, and possibly (if she takes things whose ownership is unclear or which he claims are his) may be committing burglary as well.


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