On any given week, we have several people that stop by our Pawn Shop to check and see if we have taken in particular items that were recently stolen from them. After talking with several victims, it becomes apparent that most do not know what to do beforehand (prevention) and most do not know what to do after becoming a victim of theft. Given their lack of direction, someone inevitably suggests that they go around to local Pawn Shops to see if they can find their items. Is that the most likely place to find stolen items?
According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, less than one half of one percent of all pawned merchandise is identified as stolen. Pawnbrokers are heavily regulated by various local, state, and federal laws. Pawn shops are also required by law to report to law enforcement all items taken in.
So what does that mean to a crook? It means that pawn shops are a terrible place to pawn or sell stolen items. If I'm the crook, it would be a lot like raising my hand to the police to let them know I was the one that stole these items. Even if this were to happen, my remaining hope, if I'm the crook, would be that the victim did not have accurate records and thereby could not prove that the recovered items were theirs. Even so, I would prefer to avoid this all together by selling them quickly elsewhere.
Some overlook the most essential action they can take, which is, to complete a Police Report!
If you ever find yourself a victim of theft, what should you do? Some overlook the most essential action they can take, which is, to complete a POLICE REPORT. This gets your items listed with the Police Department which gives them the power to put a "hold" order on the items in question. This prevents the item from being sold until due process has been completed. No Police report, no "hold" order, and the item can be sold multiple times without consequence.
What information should you give the Police? Of course, the more detail the better. Few victims have serial numbers, receipts, list distinguishing marks or characteristics, or photos, but if you do, it aids greatly in recovery.
Places where stolen items likely end up are:
- Flea Markets
- Wholesale Jewelry Buyers
- Custom Jewelry Manufacturers
- Gold/Silver Buyers
- Used Appliance/TV stores
- Used Sporting Goods Stores
- Antique Shops
- Second Hand Stores
- Consignment Shops
Pawn Shops may be the… the least likely to have them.
Reasons that very few stolen items end up in a pawn shop are:
- We require a valid Photo ID from every individual that we receive merchandise from
- We ask for a demonstration of how to operate the item(s)
- All customers transactions are recorded on video surveillance
- All items are reported to law enforcement
- If I'm a crook, sounds like a quick way to wind up "in the slammer!"
If you are a victim of theft, you should take these steps:
- Notify local law enforcement – complete Police report
- Notify your insurance company
- Provide detailed descriptions of each item, including receipts, serial numbers
- Search the above listed locations for your possible items
In reality, most of us do not consider it a priority to catalog our precious items. After all, it takes too much time and energy. However, after something has happened, it's more difficult to remember what you had and where you had it. Then the Investigator asks you for serial numbers to your items?
Take the time and do it now. Get your digital camera and take photos of everything that a thief might take from your house. Write down or photo the serial numbers. Collect receipts and keep them in a safe place.
If you do these things, you will be thankful if you find yourself talking to the investigator. Chances of recovery will shoot up drastically for you!