We just have been in the process of moving the merchandise of an antique clock shop of a friend of ours. The clock shop was owned by a 92 year old gentlemen, Mr. Geldof, whom I worked with for 15 years, and who was like a father to me. End of this August, "Mr. G" sadly had to return to his birth country, Belgium, because he was unable to care for himself anymore. That's why he decided to turn over his clocks to me, as a trustee to be sold on his behalf.
Preparing for this and about 3 weeks ago, we stopped by at "Prestige Time Service" at 1469 Colonial Blvd. and met the owner, Benny.
Right from the beginning he was very eager to voluntarily help and to come up with a plan. The shop seemed to have a reputation and has been in Fort Myers for a long time, therefore we gained trust and invited him over for dinner to talk. Everything went well and Benny came up with the idea of maybe displaying some of the clocks in his store after evaluation of the items we have from Mr. Geldof. At this point of time he went through the clocks and said that he would like some clock parts we have in exchange for maintenance work, and maybe a certain clock in exchange for upcoming clock repairs (we are mentioning this because all changed after we told him that this clock might stay with Mr G's family). We told him, we will get back to him.
A few days later we stopped by his store and talked again. He agreed to come back to our house and take a quick look at Mr. Geldof's clocks to see what is in good shape or worth repairing if broken, for a fee of US$ 50.-. So, Benny joined us for another dinner, which was what we thought the beginning of a good business relationship for the sake of "Mr. Geldof" whose life work we had taken on.
This time Benny acted a bit cranky at the fact, that we would not hand over the clock he decided he wanted for himself. He still looked at the clocks, we paid him his 50$ for coming over, and he convinced us that he should take 5 of the clocks with him for evaluation. We took pictures of these clocks in front of our house, but did not put this in writing. (BIG mistake)
Today we stopped by the store because of a telephone conversation yesterday, where Benny acted strange. After a short conversation, we realized that he is up to no good and asked him to return our 5 clocks. He refused plus issued quickly an invoice over an additional 600.- for time spent at our house, with the comment that he will sue us if we do not pay. Still being in the store, we called the police. At their arrival, we agreed in coordination with the police officer to pay the 600.-, so that we can get back the valuable 5 clocks, and my husband got the money from the ATM (because Benny strangely said in front of the police that he does not trust us or our credit cards). Having retrieved the money from the ATM next door and to our surprise, Benny then claimed that he had only two of the clocks. Even if we would pay the 600$ we would only get back the two clocks he placed on his counter in the meantime.
We had pictures with us of all 5 clocks, but this was not enough proof for the police. One of the clocks, the most expensive one (US$ 1500), and which had been displayed in the store when we went there and still was there when the police arrived, has been removed and placed somewhere in the back by Benny or his girlfriend at the time when my husband went to the ATM. And very odd - one of the three clocks even has been hanging on the wall within the store and we showed pictures of the clock to the police officer, but we have not been allowed to retrieve our's/Mr. Geldof's property. Nothing helped, even showing the police officer some pictures we took of Benny holding clocks in front of our house.
Prestige Time Services makes most of their money with Ebay Sales, but nice items from estate sales go as well into the private collection of Benny who resides in Pine Island. We are feeling very much robbed and I think that cashing in on other people's property is theft. Any help appreciated!