Can You Steal Cameras Back From A Deadbeat Customer?

$1500 dollar job. Half on install. Half in thirty days. 60 days later, doesn't return phone calls/emails. Never expressed dissatisfaction.

Can you take'em back?

It's not a wise move in CA. At $1,500.00 you are above the handyman limit and you have to file a lien to start. You are pressing the timeline and there was paperwork to file at 45 days. At this point small claims is about your only recourse. Grabbing the cameras could be theft.

Have you tried the ever-so-unpopular method of showing up at the site/house to talk face to face? It is one of the more uncomfortable ways to collect but it is effective. I wouldn't attempt to take them back since you could (even though you still own part of the system) get charged with theft or trespassing.

Perhaps if you haven't lost your cool yet (left angry messages, sent angry threatening emails...), there is a way for you to "compromise" the performance of the system so that it needs service? Maybe if you have remote access to the DVR/NVR/VMS?...

The client might call you again for service giving you a lame excuse for not having payed you on time and for having been unresponsive to emails and calls...

Sometims ms the threat of a lien regardless of facts can do the trick.

Either way it's not a good experience.

Can you? Sure. Should you? Only if you enjoy jail for civil theft.

Better options are a mechanic's lien, recission, or breach of contract claim. All three options require a court order. Talk to Kirschenbaum.

We do a 50% deposit and 50% upon completion of install. I explain to them that we are not a finance company and if they need payment terms we use a 3rd party leasing company. Also, our contract states that we retain ownership of the equipment until we are paid in full. Once when a guy bounced a check on us, our attorney when befor a judge and got a court order for us to pick up the equipment. We went there with a police officer and the guy got the cash for the system plus the check charge & the atorney fees

In a previous life, back in BI (before internet) I was a landscape contractor with a deadbeat customer. My girlfriend, who worked for a lawyer, suggested a mechanics lien; she borrowed one of her boss’s book of lawyerly sounding nasty letters. I took one of the nastiest typed it up, advising the customer that I had filed a lien and was copying his mortgage holder. Back in BI we had to go to county courthouse to see who held the mortgage, but today it is very easy to access the county’s database. Anyway, I never got around to filing the lien or sending a copy to the mortgage company because within seconds of the deadbeat reading my letter, he was on the phone with me, calling me all kinds of names, demanding to know who my lawyer was and… when I could stop by and pick up the money he owed! Moral of the story, send or threaten to send a letter to the mortgage holder about a lien (don’t need to go through the messiness of filling a lien), and I am betting you will see some action.

Friend of mine once told me a story of when he was a landscaper, and he and his partner did a massive (around $30,000) job for a new professional building that was being built, including extensive in-ground irrigation system. After completion, well after the building opened and was taking tenants, they still hadn't been paid, and eventually the owners told them to take a hike and "good luck trying to collect".

So, he told me, they went back late at night with their cordless drills with long bits, and knowing exactly where all the in-ground piping was, they drilled down through the pipes in dozens of spots... then went over to a nearby overpass and watched as the sprinklers were turned on in the morning... and in his words, "their entire lawn bubbled up and slid off into the street."

Told me they went hungry for weeks, but it was the best laugh they'd ever had.

Have you tried the ever-so-unpopular method of showing up at the site/house to talk face to face?

Funny you should mention that.

Let say, hypothetically speaking, that the installer were to show up at the residence, after hypothetically spending an hour in traffic. And the owner was not home. But the cameras were.

Certainly the thought might occur to decommission several. But of course, the irony and injustice of being recorded by your own system in a criminal act causes you pause. Surely he will notice their absence and replay the NVR to the point when the cameras go out...

You imagine the video evidence being thrown out of court because the installer, you, will not testify it was done correctly.

After that fantasy passes, an sinister idea comes to mind. You hypothetically remember those $29 cameras that Mitzi had talked you into. You perform an ad-hoc cross-grade. You are thankfullly one of the dying breed of installers who invoice with helpful descriptions like "8 BULLET HD-IP cameras - BLK".

Now if you can just last the retention period you're ok...

Perhaps you should do 60% deposit with order and balance on the day of install!

He is not paying until confronted unless you can run his credit card guessing a check? Once confronted call police say he threaten you now you have a police report. Once an officer shows up should explain your legal rights to resolve this issue. Sounds like a "bully" to me probably this is not his first time not to pay. Or call a credit reporting agency after you sent a certified letter of intent to collect monies. Keep us posted and take a video camera and film the whole event.

I strongly recommend that you only make factual statements on a police report. In many states it is a crime to file or falsify a police report. Good luck on collecting on the debt. Customers like this often deal with all their vendors / suppliers in a similar manner.

Get Hooked up with the square to take credit card payments. Customer bill will be due in 30 days. Let the Bank be the bank or you be the security guy. If they can't do that or pay cash seek greener pastures. I work with a lease company as well. No where in my company name is bank or lending implied. In rare cases I have also taken post dated checks. I hear its not legal???? Prove when it was written. I have been lucky i have only been stuck for $2500.00 in 8 years.