CHICAGO (WLS) --The I-Team is responding to complaints from people who say they paid upfront for service from an Edison Park clock shop and never got their clocks fixed.
Consumer fraud investigators say that people want refunds and their clocks back. The I-Team has learned that the Cook County financial crimes unit is investigating after customers say they wasted their money and time.
Clocks behind the curtains. Jim Vaccarello says he has two, sitting there, frozen in time.
"He's still got the clocks. I just want the clocks back now," Vaccarello says.
Vaccarello says he paid $500 cash, upfront, to get two clocks repaired at the Antique Watch and Clock World on the city's northwest side. He showed the I-Team a $200 deposit receipt for one clock and a blank claim ticket for another.
"I never had clocks repaired before and I thought he was a legit guy," he says.
That was almost a year ago.
"I kept coming back every couple weeks and he said come back Monday and nothing. I just kept getting the runaround from them," Vaccarello says.
Then the shop closed in June. An eviction notice from the Sheriff's Office is now posted on the door. Vaccarello is not the only person complaining, according to the Business Affairs Consumer Protection Department.
The commissioner of the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection says she's vetted Vaccarello's complaint and three others. The store owner is Charles Dyrkacz, seen in a 1974 mugshot. Schaumburg police say he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and in 2009 guilty of two theft charges. Now the BACP says he owes the city $38,000 in fines.
"On top of the fact that he was operating his business illegally he was defrauding customers, so we issued citations for both these things," says Maria Guerra Lapacek, BACP.
BACP says Drykacz's business license lapsed in December of 2015 but he was illegally operating for months before closing. The Cook County State's Attorney is investigating complaints.
"It can be pretty devastating to someone, especially of this is a family heirloom they are losing, something that meant a lot to them," Lapacek says.
Dyrkacz did not answer the door at his last listed address, the apartment empty, his numbers disconnected and his former landlord at the store says he's been staying in hotels.
"I wouldn't even let him change a chain on a bicycle," Vaccarello says.
After the I-Team got involved, Vaccarello says county investigators were able to help him get his clocks back. But it's not all good news - the insides of the clocks were stripped out.
"I don't think he's a reputable operator at all," Vaccarello says.
Consumer investigators in this case say you should avoid paying cash up front. If a repair shop insists on a deposit for parts, you should use a credit card. You can also make sure a business is licensed with the city and registered with the state.
To find out if a business is licensed with the city, click here. To file a complaint, call 311.
To find out if a business is registered with the state, click here.