My question involves personal property located in the State of: California
Our building has a front gate phone system where you call a person's apartment number and it rings to the apartment owner's phone so the owner can dial a number to buzz a person in.
Our building is zoned for work and living so we run our company out of the building.
One day we decided to route the front door number to a new number that automatically dials a tone to buzz whoever in automatically. We have a handful of employees and we found it difficult to always buzz them in automatically. Admittedly, this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do but because of missed calls, being in the shower, etc... our employees sometimes were waiting out front for a long time.
About a year after this set up, the president of the HOA of the building knocked on our door and wanted to ask us about our apartment number being tied to a thief being buzzed in who stole a bike from the garage. The front door system logs the apartment numbers dialed and they have cameras set up. He wanted to know our involvement. We immediately told him about how we set up the phone system and that we would do anything we can to help find who did this. We reviewed the tapes with the HOA president and couldn't identify who it was (the guy covered his face).
About two weeks after this incident, the HOA called us and encouraged us to talk to the neighbor whose bike was stolen. We were worried since he lives a few doors down and we were afraid of retaliation on his part (stealing or damaging our property).
Another week goes by and the HOA president called encouraging us again to talk to our neighbor.
My husband finally agreed and met with the neighbor for coffee. The neighbor was apparently very aggressive and threatened us with a lawsuit. He wouldn't budge on any negotiations and wanted the full amount for the bike (a few thousand dollars). My husband suggested our neighbor use his home insurance to cover the stolen property and the neighbor said he already made a claim and he would be dropped from his plan if he made another claim. My husband, bless his heart, is a very nice guy and he ended up agreeing with the neighbor to pay for the bike in installments.
When I heard this, I was not very happy. First of all, I feel like paying for the bikes is an admission of guilt and he could turn around and sue us anyway. I also feel like, while our phone buzzing shortcut was negligible, that we did not intend for this to happen and shouldn't be liable for the theft of the bicycle. Additionally, storing bikes in the garage is a new policy set up by our HOA when every month there are thefts in the garage. It wasn't the best idea to set up bike racks for tenants when there has been a history of stolen property there (My car was broken into last year).
I understand that I do have to accept some responsibility for the events that transpired, but I am upset that it was handled this way. I feel like now, based on our neighbor's reasoning, that I should be able to sue the neighbor who didn't watch the garage door close and allowed a thief come in and steal property from my car from last year. They do have cameras and I can track the license plate number through there. (This is just an example).
Is there anything I can do, even though my husband made a verbal agreement to pay installments?