Gold / Industry / Legal / Silver

Jewelers Win Settlement Against Local PD For Seized Items


Three New York jewelry businesses have won a settlement against the Suffolk County Police Department after its officers allegedly seized more than $100,000 worth of gold and silver items from the jewelers and didn’t return them.

In a complaint filed in January 2019 in New York federal court, the retailers—Jempath, Carina’s Fine Jewelry, and Brickstone Buying Services—claimed that, following the passage of new precious metals regulations, detectives would regularly make “unannounced” visits and “simply seize various items of jewelry, gold, and precious stones from the dealers, and give them a simple receipt for same.”

The complaint asserted that the business owners were lawful owners of these items, and the Suffolk Country Police Department neither provided them with any procedure to seek return of their property, nor any information on how they could get it back—or even why it was seized.

Out of more than $150,000 that was seized, some $100,000 was not returned, the complaint asserted. In some cases, the jewelry was sold at public auctions or given to third parties, without the businesses having any way to get it back.

In its response, the police department denied the allegations.

The settlement was approved by the court on Sept. 30.

The Suffolk County Police Department did not return to a request for comment by the time of publication. However, a spokesperson told NBC New York that all department members have been given “enhanced training” and the department has changed its policies regarding seized property.

“When ownership of property that was recovered from a secondhand dealer is contested, a hearing is held to determine ownership, to ensure both parties’ rights are preserved,” the spokesperson said.

But one business owner, Caroline Schultz, told the news channel she had to close down her business because of the issue.

“It was like the wild wild West,” Schultz said. “[The police] were doing what they wanted to do, and they weren’t accountable to anyone.

“This appears to be the tip of the iceberg—there’s no question this happened to other business owners in Suffolk County,” she added. “I hope other secondhand dealers that are still operating are not afraid to come forward [and are not] afraid of retaliation.”

Photo: Getty Images

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By: Rob Bates

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