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I know you mentioned you don't want to involve the police or the courts, but I can't totally give you an avenue to avoid both. You don't have to get the police involved, but if he won't give you the phone back voluntarily. you would need to go to court. BUT, you can do this simply by filing this in small claims court which would not require a lawyer. Further, small claims courts are very informal and very easy to navigate without the lawyer. Filing the suit give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment. In my experience, simply filing the suit is typically all you need to do to resolve this outside of court because most of the time, once served with a summons one he is being sued, he will return the phone before any hearing to avoid the judgment and having his assets attached and/or wages garnished to pay the judgment.
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