CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago woman who has been paying hundreds of dollars a month for a storage unit for years, and has the receipts to prove it, said the company called out of the blue and told her they lost her stuff.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker went to the South Side offices of of Big O Movers with Shawn Stimage, who contracted with Big O Movers back in 2013 to keep her prized possessions safe.
She was first told her items were at the company’s West Side location. Then she was told they were transferred to the South Side storage facility.
Recently that changed.
“Two weeks ago he called me and informed me, ‘We seem to have lost your items,'” Stimage said. “Lamps, dressers, all kinds of things. I have four pages.”
Back at Stimage’s home she showed Tucker some of the other items she didn’t put in storage.
Her payments add up to more than $7,000 since 2013. Now her items are gone. That’s why she was looking for the owner, Odis Reams.
When Tucker went to the office she spoke with Reams by phone. He kept using the word court, saying, “It’s in the courts now.”
That is perhaps related to the foreclosure of Big O’s West Side location at 5951 W. Madison. That’s actually the address on Stimage’s original contract with Big O.
New owners bought the building, and they’re now selling it.
An online auction listing shows the building offered with five storage floors with multiple individual storage units on each floor and no sign of Stimage’s items.
“Maybe a couple of days ago I’ve just been able to stop crying,” she said. “I just have to take it as a loss.”
CBS 2’s Tucker went back to Big O Movers a second time and found Reams, who insists he knows where the stuff is.
Big O Movers has some issues with state and federal regulators. The company is not supposed to be storing items, because its warehouse license with the state expired. Its state license to move items was revoked as well.
“As far as I’m concerned, we are in compliance,” Reams said to Tucker.
When she told him his company was not in compliance, he said, “Well, I disagree with you, and we’ll take it up with them.”
“I entrusted this man to take care of all my stuff,” Stimage said. “He just threw it away.”
When asked where Stimage’s belongings are, Reams said, “As far as I know it’s at 5951 W. Madison.”
Tucker replied, “That place has been sold.”
Reams responded, “You asked me a question, and I answered it.”
The listing agent said that location, which is the sold location, was “vacant of all trash, debris, and non-attached property” when it was sold.
“The building is in court. Ma’am I ain’t talking to you anymore,” Reams said to Tucker as she continued to question him.
After Reams talked with Tucker, Big O filed the paperwork necessary and paid the fee to move items in Illinois.
However, its storage license is still expired with the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Federal regulators said Big O is not authorized to move items across state lines, even though it advertises that service online.
Stimage filed a complaint with the ICC police, which is an option for anyone having a similar issue in Illinois.