Action 9: Victim forced to pay to get stolen ring back

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A Daytona Beach man said he can't believe he had to pay a local gold buyer in order to recover his own jewelry.

Nick Metakes said his mother, who is dying of cancer, was living at home last month when a home care worker stole his championship ring, which hit mother always wore on a necklace.

"It was well-known by anybody who was participating in her care how much it meant to her," Metakes said.

Police arrested and charged Shawn Hrbal with grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

A short time later, the ring turned up at Paul's Coins in Holly Hill, a store owned by Paul Knudsen. The shop paid Hrbal $640 for the ring, not knowing it was stolen.

"The pawn shop bought stolen property. Common sense told me I could go pick it up. That's not how it works," said Metakes.

Instead, Metakes was told he had to pay $640 to get his own ring back.

"It stinks. I'm victimized twice by this," he said.

"He feels like he's been victimized again," Action 9's Todd Ulrich said to Knudsen.

"Well, should I be the victim, so there will be two victims? He is a victim, and I totally understand that," said Knudsen.

Knudsen said because the shop bought it, the ring was there to find.

Like a pawn shop, gold buyers have to have a state license and in this case, as a second-hand dealer. They must also document every transaction, then enter that information into a pawn database, which is how sheriff's investigators found the ring.

A 1997 Florida law allows dealers to charge crime victims for their own property, but consumer groups claim it unfairly penalizes victims.

"They feel the system doesn't work, and it's not fair," said Knudsen. "It works, it really does work. It depends how you look at it."

"The law needs to protect the consumers," said Metakes.

Paul's Coins told Metakes it will not resell the ring and it will work something out with him.

Victims can try to recover money after a criminal conviction, but collecting can be tough.