Columbia County marshals began the daunting task Friday of trying to identify the owners of electronics left inside a Martinez store after the owner was evicted.
Electric Medic owner Perry Clark Bower, 54, was evicted from the property at a Jan. 23 Columbia County Magistrate Court hearing where a judge gave him seven days to vacate the business in La Petite Plaza. The property manager, Jimmy Wiggins, filed the suit against Bower to recover $5,600 in back rent he said Bower owes.
“It’s ours now,” Wiggins said of the roughly 1,000 pieces of electronics, mostly televisions, left in four suites in the shopping center.
The final day Bower was allowed on the property was Feb. 4, when two men arrived to remove some personal items, shelving and parts from the store, leaving the electronics packed into nearly every space in the building.
“They seem to have left most everything,” Columbia County Chief Marshall Shaun Brooks.
After Bower’s seven days were up, Wiggins filed for a writ of possession on Wednesday morning. Brooks put a 48-hour notice on the door of the business. That notice ran out Friday morning, when Brooks began what will likely be a lengthy sorting process and Wiggins changed the locks.
Bower was arrested four times between Jan. 16 and Feb. 4 and faces one felony count and eight misdemeanor counts of theft by deception. He also was charged on Jan. 29 with hit and run, making in improper U-turn and driving with an expired tag after he hit a truck parked in a cul de sac near his home.
Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said about 70 people have made complaints against Bower and the business. The victims told authorities that they would leave a television for repair along with a deposit or he would go to their homes and repair or collect the electronics. Some say they can’t reach Bower by phone; others say he hasn’t repaired their electronics or repaid their deposits.
Morris said the business contains hundreds if not a thousand pieces of electronics, mostly televisions.
Sheriff’s office investigators are working with the Marshal’s Office to identify the owners of the equipment before disposing of what’s left. Brooks began the day with 47 identified victims who had not received their electronics back.
“I’ll be working here for the next couple of weeks,” Brooks said. “I’m going to try to get back what I can.”
Brooks was able to identify several pieces of equipment and its owners Friday.
Travis Laube arrived to pick up the tuner he left at Electric Medic in September along with a $25 deposit. He opted to use the business because he had a positive experience with Bower and his staff a couple of years ago.
But this time was different, Laube said. He wasn’t able to reach Bower except through text messages.
“I got the runaround,” he said. When he finally reached Bower, he said they “had it out.”
In a typical eviction, Brook said the contents of a property would be placed outside. The building is going to remain locked with the equipment inside until as much as possible is returned to the owners.
Once that’s complete, it will be up to the property manager to remove what’s inside and clean out the building. Wiggins said he’s already made arrangements to get a large garbage container and estimates the clean-up combined with the back rent he said Bower owes, will cost about $10,000. He also has to make special arrangements to dispose of the televisions, which cannot simply be thrown into a landfill.