I rent my barn apartment. Last year I got a tenant that never paid and finally had to evict him. I am ready to go small claims court for about $7000. But first he took the bunk beds I left there for him to use. They were made by my grandfather and I slept on them, my kids did and I want them for my grand kids too.
So I filed a theft report. The police interviewed the tenant and he told him that I gave him the beds. I would never have done that. I have parts to the bunk beds still here in my garage. If I had given them he would have that too. The police originally said they would go with me to pick up the beds. But then changed his mind and said it was a civil matter.
It seems really strange to me that a tenant can take whatever he wants and it ok and not stealing.
I think the police have this wrong as it doesn't seem right for sure
Not surprised by the police response. Best to minimize the amount of personal property (e.g., appliances) in rentals. Leaving something you really value in a rental property is just asking for trouble. If you do this, you should write it into your lease that they are part of the property and are not being given to the tenant. I assume you have nothing in writing. So its a he said, she said type of situation. That's why its a civil matter. Add these to your small claims case and request their return as part of that case.
I've called the police while watching tenants take appliances out of a unit. I had all my paperwork to show the police proving it was my property (deeds, leases, etc,) and they told me it was a civil matter. I realize it is frustrating but there is nothing you can do about it besides file in court. The police cannot determine who is telling the truth and who is lying, that is for a judge to decide. As @Dennis M. said, never leave anything that has sentimental importance to you in the hands of a renter. I hope you get it back as well as the money but this may unfortunately be a very painful and expensive lesson.