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Independence TV repairman pulls disappearing act after taking hundreds from customers

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- All Star TV Repair is housed in a modest shop on 23rd Street in Independence. The sign says it's open for business, but customers say the door is always locked and the owner won’t come to the door even when he’s inside.

“It's criminal behavior,” customer Gentry Thomason said. “He's just taking advantage of people.”

Thomason paid James Reiken, the owner of All Star TV Repair, about $400 to fix his flat screen television. That was more than a year ago, and Thomason has never seen his TV or his money since.

The retired school teacher sued All Star. When the owner failed to show up for court, Thomason was awarded a $462 judgment. But he’s been unable to collect it.

“Irritating and frustrating,” Thomason said.

That's why he called the FOX4 Problem Solvers, who also heard from Elaisha Dodd. It’s been a year since Dodd, a mother of four, paid All Star $180 to repair her television.

“I'm leaving voicemails,” Dodd said. “He's not getting back with me at all.”

She once even tried to catch Reiken as he left his shop.

“Got into his car and ran off,” she said “He wouldn't talk to me. He wouldn't say anything. You can’t do people like that.”

According to an Independence Police report, there are even more upset customers around the metro. When another customer showed up at the shop demanding his television back, the owner called police who then told the customer it was a civil matter.

FOX4 Problem Solvers tried to find Reiken. We stopped by the business multiple times, but he was never there. However, a police report states that he both lives and works in the building. Reiken also never returned our phone call.

Reiken knows who we are because Problem Solvers visited him last year after another family called us to complain. That time Reiken solved the problem and returned the family’s television -- but he only did so after we put Reiken in the FOX4 Problem Solver Hall of Shame.

This time, we had no luck trying to get money back for Elaisha Dodd or Gentry Thomason. However, we did receive some useful advice from another former customer.

“I probably sat there for 28 days,” Wilma Clark said. She said she parked outside All Star TV Repair for nearly a month, trying to get her two televisions and $140 back.

Although Reiken successfully avoided her for nearly a month, she refused to give up – hoping to catch him as he was leaving.

“I noticed he was leaving between 1:30 and 2 p.m.,” Clark said. “I out-waited him because I was determined he would not take from me.”

She said eventually Reiken got so tired of seeing her he gave her the money back, plus two television – though they weren’t the ones she had dropped off.

Since most people don’t have the time to outwait Reiken, Problem Solvers suggests filing a complaint with Missouri’s Attorney General. But you better hurry: The building that Reiken is renting is for sale. He may not be there much longer.