DENVER -- It’s been 13 years but Mistina Sarvari can still remember almost everything about the night a teenaged burglar turned her life upside down.
She was working as a social worker and remembers it was a stressful day because several clients ran away.
She remembers working until midnight, then heading home, needing to relax.
“When I got home I just wanted to chill out. Then I saw my door was busted open, TV is gone, everything gone through,” Sarvari says. “Totally ransacked. … Totally trashed.”
Sarvari discovered her valuable jewelry was gone. She felt terribly unsafe in her home in the middle of the night, and couldn't sleep. She says she noticed a box of wine had been opened, and one of the bottles looked out of place. She says she suggested police dust the bottle for prints, and the prints led police to their suspect – a 17-year-old boy.
(Because the burglar was a juvenile, his arrest report is not publicly available to verify Sarvari’s recollection. Denver7 is choosing not to name the convicted burglar because of his age when he committed the crime.)
“It was a $30,000 loss, my insurance paid $12,000 and then the judge ordered the kid to pay me $18,000,” Sarvari said.
Sarvari says she was relieved when a judge ordered the teen to pay her restitution to pay for the jewelry he stole.
“He's in trouble, the judge realizes he's guilty and they're gonna make him pay me as part of his punishment,” Sarvari remembers thinking.
Instead, Sarvari says she has never received a dime. She says she has tried over the years to get information from the courts and victim advocates at the district attorney’s office without success.
Sarvari reached out to Denver7 Investigates after seeing a story about unclaimed restitution, and shared the difficulties she had getting information about her case. Denver7 Investigates listened as Sarvari spent 20 minutes on the phone trying to get answers about her case.
First, she spoke to a court clerk who told her the burglar has only made one $25 payment on the case, paid way back in 2006 – a payment Sarvari says she never got.
The clerk then told Sarvari that unless she knows where the convicted burglar is, she probably didn't have many options to collect. The clerk then told her to call the district attorney’s office to speak to a victim advocate. She called the district attorney’s office, who told her to call the court instead, then transferred her to the voicemail of a victim advocate.
Denver7 Investigates then helped Sarvari write an email to the juvenile court clerk asking for details about their efforts to collect from her convicted burglar.
The response sent to Sarvari shows collections investigators sent the convicted burglar a letter about restitution in 2015. The letter came back undelivered. Six months later, in early 2016, collections investigators ran a records search and found a possible new address for the convicted burglar. Since then, three more collections letters have been sent. Meanwhile, interest on the unpaid restitution keeps adding up.
Sarvari says she was recently forced to sell her home because of financial problems, so it hurts her to know she has never received a dime from the thief who ripped her off.
“[He owes] $22,000. There's the money I needed to save my house right there …That's what frustrating,” Sarvari says.
Records show the juvenile convicted in Sarvari’s case committed another burglary as an adult in 2007, and again a judge ordered him to pay more than $3,100 in restitution to the victim. Records indicate he paid more than $1,400 in that case, but has yet to make a payment to Sarvari.
She says the apparent lack of enforcement for the restitution order makes her feel like she’s been victimized all over again.
“It definitely needs to be enforced. I mean this kid probably has been working. And he could be paying me something,” Sarvari says. “He's not a juvenile anymore, he's an adult now, he can pay me. The courts could help me find him. They could tell me where he is and make this, you know, not [put] it all on me.”
Denver7 Investigates knocked on the door at the man’s last known address and learned his sister lives there. She said she hasn't spoken to him in months and does not know if he’s working or where he is. She said he also owes child support and may not have the means to pay any of it.