Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays sales manager says he shouldn't have to pay to get back stolen ring

ST. PETERSBURG — Robert Windheim was elated when police recovered the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays American League Championship ring someone stole from his home in July.

The ring was pawned days after it was stolen and the pawnshop still had it. Windheim figured the next step would be easy: Ask the pawnshop to give it back.

No problem, said R&W Pawn and Jewelry in Clearwater, but only if Windheim paid $350 to cover half the money it paid for the ring.

Windheim refused and has gone to court to force the shop to return the ring, no strings attached.

It doesn't happen very often, but filing a lawsuit is what state law requires to recover stolen merchandise from a pawnshop.

Most people just pay up to avoid the hassle and legal expense of a lawsuit. In January, the St. Petersburg Times told Karen Hadidi's story of paying a pawnshop $55 for a camera someone stole from her.

But Windheim thinks there's a principle at stake, says his attorney Roy L. Glass of St. Petersburg. "There's no requirement that he has to pay half to get his own ring back," Glass said.

And that's true. But pawnshops say they provide a valuable service and it's not fair for them to be victimized, too.

Scott A. Richardson, 41, of Clearwater is accused of stealing Windheim's ring. Richardson was working for New Tech Pest Control of Palm Harbor when he was accused of taking the ring as he sprayed for bugs at Windheim's St. Petersburg condo on July 12.

Windheim, a sales manager for the Rays, puts the value of the ring at $3,600. It has 18 diamonds on top and his name engraved on it.

The pawnshop paid $695 for it.

Walter Orkisz, co-owner of the pawnshop, said people usually are willing to pay to reclaim their belongings and avoid a lawsuit.

"Mr. Windheim … has a lot of time and money to waste, and he'd rather go through the court system and waste the court system's time than pay me a few hundred bucks and get his stuff back," he said.

If Richardson is convicted, a judge could order him to pay restitution, Orkisz says. That way, no one is victimized.

"I'm not the guy who let the exterminator into his house," Orkisz said. "And I'm not the person responsible for the theft of his item."

Orkisz says if his shop wasn't so diligent in following state law, Windheim would never have known his ring had been pawned.

Under state law, a pawnshop is required to file paperwork with police documenting every item it buys. Sellers are required to show ID and provide fingerprints and a signature. All that is filed with police, and that's how St. Petersburg detectives tracked down Windheim's ring.

Orkisz said it's unfair if pawnshops are victimized, too.

Now, it's up to a judge to decide.

Windheim's suit is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Thursday.

Tampa Bay Rays sales manager says he shouldn't have to pay to get back stolen ring 09/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  2. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  3. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays scored that many in a single game during their two-plus week numbing stretch of offensive impotency, and in a home game in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  4. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  5. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.