Monday, June 1, 2009
Help Me Howard: Missing Ring
OK, here is one that I hope you have never had to answer. You are arrested by police, taken from your car and hauled off to jail. Who is responsible for the things in your vehicle? The police, the company who tows your car away or you? One man lost a fancy diamond ring and called Help me Howard for the answer.
WSVN -- Ron Abrams is an electrician, and like everyone else in the construction business, he's not getting rich.
Ron Abrams: "Times are horrible. Times are horrible in the contracting business."
He also had a bad day 17 months ago when a police officer pulled him over on Miami Beach for a traffic violation and discovered his license had been suspended.
Ron Abrams: "He ran my license and found out my license was suspended, unfortunately, and he put me in the back of the car, in the back of his car."
Ron had his laptop, a watch and his diamond wedding ring in the car, so he let the officer know.
Ron Abrams: "I told him, I said, 'My wedding band is there. I'm going to jail. I'd like to have my wedding band.' He said to me, 'Oh, I saw the wedding band there. It is no problem.'"
His property stayed in his car and was towed away. Ron was taken to the Miami Beach Police Department, where he says a sergeant told the arresting officer to let him go.
Ron Abrams: "Because the situation around the incident, me being arrested was ridiculous."
Ron went straight to the tow yard, but when he got there he was given this inventory sheet filled out by the police officer showing the car contained a laptop, watch and some tools, but there was no mention of a diamond wedding ring.
Ron Abrams: "The inventory report, and sure enough, no ring. Everything was on the police report, but my wedding band."
He was told the officer should have turned the ring into the property room, so he went to the police station.
Ron Abrams: "And I went to the property room, they had nothing that the officer had turned in, not a thing from me to the property."
The wedding ring had been given to Ron by his wife who paid almost $3,000 for it.
Ron Abrams: "The wedding band was a white gold band with two rows of beget diamonds, equaling of 2.7 karats, so it was a pretty nice ring. I love the ring."
Ron then filed a complaint with Miami Beach Internal Affairs.
Ron Abrams: "I think the police department should have been responsible and say, 'OK, it is missing, our officer is responsible for it, you know. How could we compensate you?' Because that is the right thing to do."
Ron wants his ring replaced. The police said it's not our responsibility, so he made the call that so many South Floridians make to Help me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "If an officer takes something from you, they have to replace it. In addition to committing a crime, but making this so difficult, how do you prove the ring was ever there? How do you prove a police officer took it? Maybe it was taken at the tow yard. In this case, the police have to investigate their own."
I got a copy of the Internal Affairs report. The conclusion, both officers involved in Ron's arrest denied being aware of a wedding band inside the vehicle, and there was no evidence that either one of them stole it, as Mr. Abrams alleged. The report did find that the officers violated department policy by not placing the valuable items in Ron's car in the property room. But that conclusion was overturned by the police chief. Bottom line, it's going to be tough for Ron to get reimbursed for his ring.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is an extreme long shot if you take this to court. On one side, you have Ron, and on the other, two officers, and you also have the tow company. Not only would a judge have to be convinced the ring was there, he would have to determine who took it, and there is just not enough evidence to do that."
Patrick Fraser: "So what happened to the ring? Well, Internal Affairs did check the pawn shop data bases for Miami-Dade and Broward County. The ring didn't show up there. Who knows where it is."
Does the phrase, 'Got a problem?' have a familiar ring to it? Don't tow it around. Report it to us. We don't wear a badge, but some think we are a diamond in the rough, really rough.