Recovering Pawned Stolen Property
Florida courts have ruled that law enforcement may no longer recover stolen property from pawnshops and return it to a victim of a crime without providing the broker an opportunity of a hearing.
If your stolen property is found in a pawnshop you may decide to purchase it back or obtain a court order to recover the property. In order to obtain a court order to recover your property, you must file a petition for return of the property with the Clerk of the County Court. Legal assistance is recommended.
The Florida Pawnbroking Act states: To obtain possession of stolen property held by a pawnbroker, the victim must notify the broker by certified mail, return receipt requested or in person, evidenced by a signed notice such as the one in the brochure, Guide to Rights and Remedies of the Florida State Pawnbroking Act. The notice must contain a description of the property and must be accompanied by a copy of the law enforcement agency’s report of the theft. If you reported a crime to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, you may obtain a copy of the report from our Records Division:
Lee County Sheriff’s Office
14750 Six Mile Cypress Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33912
The Florida Pawnbroking Act further states: If the victim and the pawnbroker do not resolve the matter within ten (10) days after the pawnbroker’s receipt of the notice, the victim may petition the court to order the return of the property, naming the pawnbroker as a defendant. The pawnbroker is required to hold the property until the right to possession is resolved by the parties or by the court.
To obtain a court order, contact:
Clerk of Court
Lee County Justice Center
1700 Monroe Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901
If, after a hearing, the court orders the return of the property to the claimant, the claimant may recover the claimant's attorney’s fees from the pawnbroker. If convicted of theft, the court shall order that the conveying customer must repay the pawnbroker the full amount the customer received from the pawnbroker for the property. The conveying customer shall be responsible for the pawnbroker’s cost incurred in the proceeding including the broker’s attorney’s fees incurred by defending a replevin action. If the court finds that the claimant failed to comply with the requirements of the statute, or otherwise finds against the claimant, the claimant is liable for the defendant’s costs, including attorney’s fees.
**Disclaimer: This material is for general information only and shall not be construed as legal advice or counseling.