A person who repairs property has a lien on the property and can sell the property to satisfy the lien. There are notice requirements and the property must be sold at auction if it is worth more than $100.
I pulled this off of FindLaw, I have no idea of this law is current.
http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/LIE articles 8 and 9
N.Y. LIE. LAW § 180 : NY Code - Section 180: Artisans' lien on personal property
A person who makes, alters, repairs or performs work or services of any nature and description upon, or in any way enhances the value of an article of personal property, at the request or with the consent of the owner, has a lien on such article, while lawfully in possession thereof, for his reasonable charges for the work done and materials furnished, and may retain possession thereof until such charges are paid.
N.Y. LIE. LAW § 200 : NY Code - Section 200: Sale of personal property to satisfy a lien
A lien against personal property... if in the legal possession of the lienor, may be satisfied by the sale of such property according to the provisions of this article.
N.Y. LIE. LAW § 201 : NY Code - Section 201: Notice of sale
Before such sale is held the lienor shall serve a notice on the owner... or mail ( certified mail, return receipt requested, and by first-class mail)the notice if the property is of a value of less than one hundred dollars. The following must be included in the notice.
- The nature of the debt or agreement which gave rise to the lien.
- Description of the property
- Estimated value of the property
- Amount of the lien and the date of the notice
Give them ten days to pay, tell them when and where the sale is happening, and tell them they can bring as action under section 201a within ten days.
N.Y. LIE. LAW § 202 : NY Code - Section 202: Sale to be advertised; exception
Each sale of personal property of a value of one hundred dollars or more, or of any security, to satisfy a lien thereon shall be at public auction to the highest bidder, and shall be held in the city or town where the lien was acquired.
Each sale of personal property of a value of less than one hundred dollars, other than a security, to satisfy a lien thereon, shall be made pursuant to the provisions of subdivision one hereof (auction), or at a bona fide private sale in the city or town where the lien was acquired. A bona fide private sale pursuant to this section shall not be made until the expiration of six months after the time for the payment of the amount of the lien specified in the notice required to be served by section two hundred one or two hundred one-a of this article.
Section 204 - keep the money to cover the lien but hang onto the balance. Serve notice on the owner and then in six months if the owner does not claim the money deposit it with the treasurer or chamberlain of the city or village, or the commissioner of finance in the city of New York, or the supervisor of the town, where such sale was held. You don't get this money back, it goes to the owner or to the town eventually.