Tampa Bay area homeowners learn appliance repairman they hired was convicted felon
PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – Some Tampa Bay area homeowners were surprised to learn that the equipment repair man they hired was a convicted felon.
Florida law does not require a license or background exam for equipment repair personnel. So if it comes to someone in your home fixing your dryer, refrigerator, or washing machine, it is your responsibility to check them out.
It’s a lesson learned too late by St. Petersburg-based Grant Wood. When his freezer stopped chilling in August, Wood turned to the Internet. He found an equipment repair shop there, and Stephen Robinson answered the call.
Wood showed ABC Action News a bill signed by Robinson for $ 750 in cash. It indicated work on the compressor and refrigerant that was being added to the system. But after Robinson left it was clear that the freezer was still not working. Wood said he called Robinson, left voicemails, and texted him, but he wouldn’t answer.
Woods said the man who was captured on house surveillance video on the day of the repair was the same person in a mug shot we pulled from court files.
ABC Action News found that Robinson is a convicted criminal who was jailed for three years between 2007 and 2010 for armed burglary and cocaine sales. As of 2016, Robinson pleaded guilty or found guilty of marijuana possession, criminal calamity, and false review of the property charge in connection with a property stolen case.
“I’m shocked that he has that kind of story,” said Woods.
Ken Cadiz had no idea of Robinson’s past either. In April he paid Robinson cash to fix his broken refrigerator.
“He said, ‘give it 12 hours. It should cool down again and will be fine,'” recalled Cadiz. “The next morning the refrigerator was warm.”
ABC Action News put both customers in contact with Pinellas County’s consumer protection agency. Agency investigators confirmed they were investigating the two complaints and another was reported in September.
We sent emails, left messages, and knocked on the doors for the last two addresses listed in the court records for Robinson before calling him to catch up. The 34-year-old declined to be interviewed on camera but told me he intended to refund clients’ money. And when we asked about his criminal history, he said he had changed his life.
Before you hire someone to come to your home and work on your devices, do the following: