Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.
First, you can sue the man in small claims
court for the $5500. To sue, you should visit the local small claims court and request the forms. You do not need an attorney for this (though you may certainly retain one if you'd like). If you win the lawsuit, then you will get a judgment against him. The judgment will allow you to garnish his bank accounts and can also be filed as a lien on real estate that he owns now or in the future. Unfortunately, wages cannot be garnished in SC.
It is not illegal for you to hold onto his items in the sense that it is not a crime. The police won't arrest you for it. If you sue, then he may countersue you for his things. A judge may order you to return the items, though you can ask if you be allowed to keep them as payment on the judgment that you hopefully win. The judge may not allow that, however, since you wouldn't likely be considered to have a lien on the items.
If I were you, I doubt that I would give him the items unless and until you are either paid, or a judge tells you to give him the things.
Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated.
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