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  #1  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:48 PM
Stink Fish Pot Stink Fish Pot is offline
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pawn shops - Cops find my stolen whatever, I have to pay to get it back?

I was listening to the Kim Commando show (it's basically a techy-geek show for folks that aren't too technical).

Anyway, a guy called in and was asking for advice on a new camcorder. Seems his first one was stolen, and the police found it at a pawn shop. The real owner of the thing said he had to pay the pawn shop to get it back, and instead of that figured he'd buy a new one instead.

Can this be true? How can the pawn shop not be in a little bit of trouble for buying stolen property? Why would the owner of the stolen product have to pay the pawn shop to get his own property back?

Unfortunately, I didn't get a state, and they didn't delve into the questions that immediately came to my mind, so I'm wondering if any of you have the straight dope on pawn shops and the law.
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:59 PM
Serenata67 Serenata67 is offline
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There's gotta be a law against selling stolen property, which is what they're doing...
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:06 PM
raindog raindog is offline
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You have to buy it back. (spoken from experience)
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  #4  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:08 PM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
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Can you at least claim it on your renter's or homeowner's insurance?

SSG Schwartz
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  #5  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:35 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Color me skeptical
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  #6  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:45 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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Let's say it's true in some states, and you have to pay them at least what they paid for it (roughly one-tenth of resale value): If they didn't have a shot at recouping their losses, how obligated would they feel to alert the police or you?
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  #7  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:52 PM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by Krokodil View Post
Let's say it's true in some states, and you have to pay them at least what they paid for it (roughly one-tenth of resale value): If they didn't have a shot at recouping their losses, how obligated would they feel to alert the police or you?
In Los Angeles, they would feel pretty obligated because their pawn shop license depended upon it. Pawn shops manage the risk of losses by charging interest on loans and by simple retailing, buy for a dollar and sell for two.

I still have trouble with state-mandated sales of stolen property. I would love to see some links to laws that mandate a victim must purchase their stolen property back from a pawnshop (or anyone else who happens to be in possession of said stolen property)
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  #8  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:24 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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I wonder if the real difficulty is in proving that it is in fact your item and that it was stolen. If you have the serial number and reported it stolen, perhaps there would be a different story.

Last edited by WarmNPrickly; 07-20-2009 at 12:24 AM..
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:49 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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In Florida you have to go to law to recover your property.

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Florida courts have ruled that law enforcement may no longer recover stolen property from pawnshops and return it to a victim of a crime without providing the broker an opportunity of a hearing.

If your stolen property is found in a pawnshop you may decide to purchase it back or obtain a court order to recover the property. In order to obtain a court order to recover your property, you will need to file a petition for return of the property with the Clerk of the County Court. It is recommended that you seek legal assistance to file the petition.
http://www.sheriffleefl.org/activity/pawn.aspx

In other words it's quicker and more convenient for the victim to get his property back by paying the pawnbroker for it.
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  #10  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:52 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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WAG: If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations* and purchased the item in good faith**, why should he be out the money he paid for the item? That would be a law requiring him to take the place of the original victim.



* - Checking ID, keeping records of who they purchased the goods from, that sort of thing.
** - In other words, his records don't show him buying eight camcorders, nine used wallets, sixteen mobile phones and three iPods from the same guy in the course of several days and then claiming he had no reason to suspect they were stolen.
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  #11  
Old 07-20-2009, 01:14 AM
dba Fred dba Fred is offline
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
WAG: If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations* and purchased the item in good faith**, why should he be out the money he paid for the item? That would be a law requiring him to take the place of the original victim.
If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations, his recourse would be with the person who sold him the items. The police and then the DA, who also would be interested in the seller, may be of assistance in helping the pawn shop owner recover money from the seller.
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2009, 01:34 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
why should he be out the money he paid for the item?
Because he's in possession of stolen property, and has received stolen property. Surely you've heard of the term 'fence' before.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2009, 02:01 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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Originally Posted by IAmNotSpartacus View Post
Because he's in possession of stolen property, and has received stolen property. Surely you've heard of the term 'fence' before.
I have, NotSpartacus. I just hadn't thought of a person who unknowingly receives stolen property as a fence; I've always connected the term with someone who receives and sells goods they are aware were stolen. Isn't a pawnbroker required to refuse to buy goods they believe are stolen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbaFred
If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations, his recourse would be with the person who sold him the items. The police and then the DA, who also would be interested in the seller, may be of assistance in helping the pawn shop owner recover money from the seller.
And if the rightful owner doesn't track it down until it is sold to someone else, what happens? Can they demand it be returned free of charge, and leave the unwitting purchaser to pursue the pawnbroker to return their money, who in turn must track down the original thief for the return of his money? One victim turns into a trail of victims.

I have dim recollections of talking about this stuff with my father years ago and his explanation was that the law protected pawnbrokers so they weren't forced out of business, and they were required to follow strict guidelines regarding keeping accurate records of sellers and having a reasonable belief that the goods they were buying weren't stolen. My father is neither a lawyer nor a pawnbroker (nor a thief, FWIW) so I don't know where he sourced his information, or if it applies elsewhere. He might have been giving me his own "common sense" explanation for why he thought the laws shafted the original victim.

If a pawnbroker can be forced to return goods that are reported stolen, couldn't a pair of people fleece them dry by selling goods to them (under a false ID) and then reporting them stolen and reclaiming them?
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  #14  
Old 07-20-2009, 02:17 AM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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The legislation here is the Pawnbrokers and Second-hand Dealers Act 1996 (NSW). If you've previously reported the theft to the police, and you can provide appropriate proof of ownership, you can request that the police issue a 'restoration notice' to the pawnbroker. This requires the pawnbroker either to hand over the stolen goods, or if not willing to do so, to apply to a Tribunal for further assessment of ownership.

You may have similar legislation in Victoria, Cazzle.
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  #15  
Old 07-20-2009, 07:53 AM
racer72 racer72 is offline
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I had a generator stolen from right in front of my home. I called the police and filed a report. A month later the police from a nearby town called, my generator was found in a pawn shop, if I wanted to I could go get it. The pawn shop owner refused to give it back despite the fact I had a copy of the police report (with serial number) and my driver's license number was engraved on it in 3 different locations. A call to the police and the threat of a citation for recieving stolen property and it was given back.
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2009, 08:19 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Similarly, a friend of mine unknowingly passed a counterfeit bill. At his bank! It was confiscated without replacement.
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:37 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
If a pawnbroker can be forced to return goods that are reported stolen, couldn't a pair of people fleece them dry by selling goods to them (under a false ID) and then reporting them stolen and reclaiming them?
One problem with this scheme is that a legitimate, or reasonably intelligent, pawnbroker would quit buying from that source after the first theft claim. His continued purchases from that source would be a classic "fooled me twice, shame on me" kind of thing.

I can see the logic in having the owner of the item claim the theft on insurance, then purchase the item from the pawnbroker, assuming the pawnbroker is under scrutiny for his buying practices. On the other hand, I could also see a logic in having pawnbrokers need to insure themselves against the "loss" of having to return stolen goods. Whatever logic applies, though, it sounds like the legal treatment will depend on state law.
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  #18  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:01 AM
Eliahna Eliahna is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry View Post
One problem with this scheme is that a legitimate, or reasonably intelligent, pawnbroker would quit buying from that source after the first theft claim. His continued purchases from that source would be a classic "fooled me twice, shame on me" kind of thing.
Well, true. It would only be a problem if it becomes a common scam, perpetrated by many. I guess I had in mind a con where they traded a large number of items in one go, but it wouldn't be very sensible of a pawnbroker to pay out more money than he can afford to.

Thanks for that info, Cunctator. As I said, I was going off a dim recollection of a conversation with my father, who has no particular reason to have in-depth knowledge on this subject and may have just been speculating about what makes sense to him.
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  #19  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:24 AM
Driver8 Driver8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
WAG: If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations* and purchased the item in good faith**, why should he be out the money he paid for the item? That would be a law requiring him to take the place of the original victim.
If the original owner followed all the necessary regulations and owned the item in good faith (?), why should he be out the item when it is stolen? I cannot accept that the pawnshop owner has a "stronger" right to this property than the original owner. The purchase was not valid, as the seller did not have the right to sell the item. I feel sympathy for the pawn shop owner, but also feel that in the real world this expense (either of losing money in a transaction like this or of additional overhead in trying to weed out sellers of stolen goods) needs to be build into their business model.

It would probably be impractical, even dangerous, to implement in the real world, but as an abstract ethical issue I still consider the original owner the current owner: if he sees the item in the pawnshop it is his to walk away with.

Under the "buying under good faith means you own it" policy I guess those suckers who bought the Brooklyn Bridge weren't such suckers after all!
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  #20  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:36 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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Just throwing this out there. What if the pawnshop owner has sold the item and it is identified in the home of the new purchaser? Does the original owner have any claim then?
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  #21  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:38 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry View Post
Just throwing this out there. What if the pawnshop owner has sold the item and it is identified in the home of the new purchaser? Does the original owner have any claim then?
Why wouldn't he? The property is still stolen. Just because it passes through a pawn shop does not mean it's been laundered.
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  #22  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:47 AM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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I've heard of people unknowingly buying stolen cars. They are out the money they purchased the car for unless they can find the person that sold them the stolen car. The car always go back to the original owner. I'm guessing that stolen cars are easier to track.
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  #23  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:52 AM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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Well, since we're seeing some cites that pawnbrokers have a right to appeal, it seems like the new buyer might also have some rights. I guess maybe the new buyer's right may be to take the pawnbroker to court, though.
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  #24  
Old 07-20-2009, 11:54 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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In general a thief cannot pass title to someone else.

Now that is just a "general rule." The courts have ruled in certain cases a thief DID in fact pass title.

Artwork for instance and coins are classic examples where they've been stolen and then sold time and time and time again, and the original owner has indeed pressed and got the item back.

Most states though have a statute of limitations for pressing claims, usually it's 3 years. But even this is subject to "discovery." There was a famous case in NYC where a thief stole artwork and it was passed till someone believing they bought it legitimately put it on public display. This started a chain reaction. The court rules the 3 year statute period started from the time a resonable person could've discovered it.

However in Indiana for instance, the Greek Orthadox Chruch lost a suit because they didn't bring charges quick enough.

The difference you'll find in state laws is basically places like NY and California which have huge markets for art, especially art in private collections the laws tend to be very liberal toward the person that had it stolen. The California court ruled that it was not the court's place to allow a thief to steal and stash it away for a time period to allow him to have legitimate title to it.

The answer always seems to be if someone is in possession of your goods and you had them stolen, you have to follow proper channels to get them back. And if the item is of little value it may be easier just to pay up the pawn shop as other posters have noted.

You remember OJ in Vegas of course, that clearly shows, even though something is yours, you don't have the right to just go in and take it back willy nilly, there are proper procedures you must follow.
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  #25  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:56 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is offline
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I went through this situation myself (in Washington state).

I was playing bass in a band. Our guitarist was a fantastic player who, because of a rough stretch (his own fault, due to chemical addictions that he was supposedly over) did not at the time have his own guitar. I was letting him use my electric guitar and small amp, both cheap things I'd bought just to have something to thrash on when I was in the mood. Cheap the gear might have been, but this guitarist made that guitar sound very sweet. We had a regular "house band" gig, playing three nights a week at a local bar.

Well, one night the drummer and I showed up for the gig, and the guitarist wasn't there. We waited. And waited. And waited. By 30 minutes past the time we were supposed to start playing, it was clear that the guitarist wasn't going to show. Unfortunately he didn't have a phone, so we had no way to get hold of him to find out where he was.

The few days later we found out where he was: gone. My drummer bumped into some people the guitarist had lived with briefly, and found out that he'd broken into their house and stolen some audio equipment, the same night he didn't show for the gig.

I had little choice but to call the police and report my stuff stolen. Within a couple weeks the stolen audio equipment was located at one local pawn shop, and that led to my guitar and amp being found at yet another pawn shop (he had spread the stuff around so as not to arouse suspicion by trying to pawn too much stuff at one place). It happened that he pawned my stuff at the same pawn shop that I use when I need to pawn something (my own stuff, of course, and I always redeem the stuff I pawn). Fortunately I had photos of the guitar and amp, as well as the guitar's serial #. It was the police who located the stuff, though, so I didn't have to personally try to recover it. The police had already confiscated the stuff before they called me, so I picked it up at the police station.

The pawn shop owners were happy to give my stuff back, but they were obviously none too pleased about being out the $90 they'd paid for it (though how he managed to get $90 is a mystery to me - when I said the stuff was "cheap", I mean that I paid less than $200 total for the gear, and I bought it new from a legitimate dealer). They really couldn't be faulted for taking the stuff, either. Like me, this guitarist was a regular customer of the pawn shop, and had a legitimate history of pawning and redeeming things there, so the owners didn't think anything of it when he pawned a guitar and amp.

(Followup to all that: guitarist guy had taken the money and fled to Las Vegas, where he stayed for a couple years until he got picked up for something else, the arrest warrant for his thefts here was discovered, and he was extradited back here. He went to trial, pled guilty, and did some time in jail. When he got out of jail he made a point of tracking me down and personally apologizing. He's since cleaned himself up, found a regular job, and made restitution.)
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  #26  
Old 07-20-2009, 08:18 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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The law in Ohio is pretty much what said above.

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the article until the expiration.
(C) If the chief or the head of the local police department determines the identity of the true owner of the allegedly stolen article, that has been purchased and held by a licensee, and informs the licensee of the true owner's identity:
(1) The licensee may restore the allegedly stolen article to its true owner directly.
(2) The true owner may reimburse the licen-see for the amount the licensee paid for the al-legedly stolen article.
(3) The true owner may recover the article and reasonable attorney fees from the licensee in an action at law.
(D) If it is determined that the true owner of the allegedly stolen article, for whatever reason, chooses not to file a charge against the person or persons responsible for the theft, the licensee may charge the true owner of the allegedly sto-len article the amount the licensee paid for the allegedly stolen article.
Effective: 7-22-1994
.

We buy coins and jewelry from perhaps 50-150 people/day. We're not a pawn shop, but are rather governed by the Ohio Precious Metals Dealers License. It's virtually the same.

If you bought a half carat diamond ring for $2000 at the retail jewelry store, we might, if we need it, offer you $400. While that seems low, you have to remember that the jewelry store might have only paid $700 new for that item. So, you want to sell a used wedding ring, I'm willing to pay $400 to put it into inventory.

In the case of us purchasing a stolen ring, if the police call us and give us a name or have something we can use to identify the ring, then the true owner has the options I listed above. We usually find that the owner is very glad we were able to assist them, and is very willing to buy it back from us for the $400. Yes, they could sue us for return of the ring, and we'd probably have to give it back for free. It might cost them less time and money to just buy it back. I believe they can try to recover that cost from the criminal--sometimes it's easy, most times not.

If we, or a pawn broker, buy an item in good faith, keep the required records, and cooperate with the police, then they have little reason to prosecute us as being fences. They could try, but if you're using due diligence, they seldom do.

Last edited by samclem; 07-20-2009 at 08:19 PM..
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  #27  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:07 PM
Woeg Woeg is offline
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Granted, it's been ages since I worked in the pawn industry (10+ years) but I was a closing store manager for a corporate, national pawn chain at one point in my life, in the state of Colorado. Stolen merchandise is something you inevitably end up dealing with in that industry - and our response to it varied based off the circumstances of the discovery of the merchandise.

- If Joe Schmoe came off of the street saying he'd been robbed and he wanted to know if any thing had been pawned matching X description, we weren't technically allowed to tell them anything other then to report it to the police (not sure if this was law or store policy - but I do know that, if we suspected we did have the item, we'd often give them the card and a personal recommendation of an officer that worked theft/robbery cases that we knew).

- If a police officer came in with questions/etc, we were of course given more liberty with what information we could provide, but we still had to keep the merchandise (locked up, of course) until there was a warrant for its seizure or other legal document allowing us to return it to its rightful owner. If there wasn't, though, we'd flag the item in our system and call our friend on the department if anyone came in looking to pick it back up, just in case.

- If an officer came in with a warrant, obviously, we'd happily turn it over and just as happily testify at the trial. Which I did, on a number of occasions (but less then I would have thought, for the five years I spent in the industry.)

- If a person claiming to be the rightful owner was able to produce sufficient evidence that the item was theirs (serial numbers, photos, police report, etc) AFTER the item had been pulled from "loans" and put into "sales", but without an official legal document claiming their right, we gave them the option of buying the item for the original loan value (significantly less then the sale price), or placing it on "one-penny layaway" until the case was resolved, so as to ensure that it didn't get sold.

The latter option was pretty rare, but happened on occasion. Usually, the police came in with a warrant, we helped them load it in their cars, and then it spent the rest of eternity in an evidence locker. I actually had one customer who went through both ordeals - he had a regrettable instinct for dating drug addicts who stole and pawned his stuff - and he said he preferred the latter option because, after the hassle and headache of trying to get his stuff back from the police on a case that was still technically open when they couldn't track down his latest transient addict former girlfriend, he'd rather pay the pitiful amount we loaned on the item to just have it back.

Oh, and in cases where the police seized the item and then returned it to the victim (eventually), we never pursued the thief in court beyond testifying at their criminal trial, figuring it a lost cause (at least we didn't in the five years I worked there). We just wrote the lost money off on either taxes or insurance.
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  #28  
Old 07-21-2009, 10:03 AM
BwanaBob BwanaBob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
The law in Ohio is pretty much what said above.

.

We buy coins and jewelry from perhaps 50-150 people/day. We're not a pawn shop, but are rather governed by the Ohio Precious Metals Dealers License. It's virtually the same.

If you bought a half carat diamond ring for $2000 at the retail jewelry store, we might, if we need it, offer you $400. While that seems low, you have to remember that the jewelry store might have only paid $700 new for that item. So, you want to sell a used wedding ring, I'm willing to pay $400 to put it into inventory.

In the case of us purchasing a stolen ring, if the police call us and give us a name or have something we can use to identify the ring, then the true owner has the options I listed above. We usually find that the owner is very glad we were able to assist them, and is very willing to buy it back from us for the $400. Yes, they could sue us for return of the ring, and we'd probably have to give it back for free. It might cost them less time and money to just buy it back. I believe they can try to recover that cost from the criminal--sometimes it's easy, most times not.

If we, or a pawn broker, buy an item in good faith, keep the required records, and cooperate with the police, then they have little reason to prosecute us as being fences. They could try, but if you're using due diligence, they seldom do.
samclem, this is interesting. But can you explain why the old adage "buyer beware" doesn't apply to you?

Last edited by BwanaBob; 07-21-2009 at 10:03 AM..
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  #29  
Old 07-21-2009, 10:10 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by BwanaBob View Post
samclem, this is interesting. But can you explain why the old adage "buyer beware" doesn't apply to you?
I am going to presume it's the pawn shop lobby. Trade groups have a great deal of power in convincing state and local legislators in carving out favorable rules and regulations specific to that industry.

Although, I could be wrong, so if one of the legal eagles could correct me if I am-- But Ohio's statute appears to read that the victim can not only recover the property in question from the pawn shop via a court proceeding but can also recover attorney's fees. So it seems it would not be in the pawn shop's interest to fight the matter and just cough up the property if the pawn shop sees any likelihood of the property belonging to the party bringing the suit.
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  #30  
Old 03-17-2010, 05:39 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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1.) When I worked for Gamestop we kept track of the serial numbers of all the systems that people sold to us. We had a PSP's serial number flag up as stolen a few days after we bought it and the police came and took it. As far as I know it was given back to the owner and he didn't have to buy it off of us.

2.) I know that the History Channel reality show Pawn Stars isn't really a reliable source of information, but in one of the episodes cops came and took what turned out to be a stolen necklace and it was given back to the owner. The owner of the pawn shop commented that this is why they had to be super careful about not taking in stolen stuff, because they wouldn't make money off of it.

Maybe it differs from place to place?
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  #31  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:49 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem View Post
The law in Ohio is pretty much what said above.

.

We buy coins and jewelry from perhaps 50-150 people/day. We're not a pawn shop, but are rather governed by the Ohio Precious Metals Dealers License. It's virtually the same.

If you bought a half carat diamond ring for $2000 at the retail jewelry store, we might, if we need it, offer you $400. While that seems low, you have to remember that the jewelry store might have only paid $700 new for that item. So, you want to sell a used wedding ring, I'm willing to pay $400 to put it into inventory.

In the case of us purchasing a stolen ring, if the police call us and give us a name or have something we can use to identify the ring, then the true owner has the options I listed above. We usually find that the owner is very glad we were able to assist them, and is very willing to buy it back from us for the $400. Yes, they could sue us for return of the ring, and we'd probably have to give it back for free. It might cost them less time and money to just buy it back. I believe they can try to recover that cost from the criminal--sometimes it's easy, most times not.

If we, or a pawn broker, buy an item in good faith, keep the required records, and cooperate with the police, then they have little reason to prosecute us as being fences. They could try, but if you're using due diligence, they seldom do.

You would actually make a person buy back a stolen item that you have in your store? Damn. I would press charges if it was my ring.
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  #32  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:52 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
1.) When I worked for Gamestop we kept track of the serial numbers of all the systems that people sold to us. We had a PSP's serial number flag up as stolen a few days after we bought it and the police came and took it. As far as I know it was given back to the owner and he didn't have to buy it off of us.

2.) I know that the History Channel reality show Pawn Stars isn't really a reliable source of information, but in one of the episodes cops came and took what turned out to be a stolen necklace and it was given back to the owner. The owner of the pawn shop commented that this is why they had to be super careful about not taking in stolen stuff, because they wouldn't make money off of it.

Maybe it differs from place to place?
Maybe that, maybe it was staged, or maybe Rick is just honest.
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  #33  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:52 PM
SteveG1 SteveG1 is offline
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Originally Posted by raindog View Post
You have to buy it back. (spoken from experience)
I had the same experience - in Texas. Two high dollar guitars, I had the serial numbers, the "identifying marks" etc. It didn't mean shit.
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  #34  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:56 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Well this is all very distressing. >.<

I thought that their having to return property that's discovered to be stolen was their primary incentive to be careful about not buying stolen goods. Now they're basically fences in all but name!
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  #35  
Old 03-17-2010, 10:11 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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IANAL but my understanding is that the original legal owner retains his legal ownership. If the stolen item is located it still legally belongs to him and he gets it back. This supercedes the ownership rights of other people who might have acquired subsequent ownership of the item, even if they did so in good faith and without breaking any law.

Pawn shops presumedly have insurance to cover the expense of having to turn over merchandise that they legitimately purchased but later turned out to be stolen. The loss of the item that way would be an expense like like losing an item to shoplifting or a fire.
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  #36  
Old 03-17-2010, 10:34 PM
markci markci is offline
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
WAG: If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations* and purchased the item in good faith**, why should he be out the money he paid for the item? That would be a law requiring him to take the place of the original victim.
Because that in fact is how the law works for everyone else. Title to stolen goods does not pass.
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  #37  
Old 03-17-2010, 10:45 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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State law varies. The law is complicated. This isn't legal advice and etc. But...

Generally, the relevant law here is UCC 2-403, specifically section 1 along with the common law right of replevin.

UCC 2-403:

2-403. Power to Transfer; Good Faith Purchase of Goods; "Entrusting".

(1) A purchaser of goods acquires all title which his transferor had or had power to transfer except that a purchaser of a limited interest acquires rights only to the extent of the interest purchased. A person with voidable title has power to transfer a good title to a good faith purchaser for value. When goods have been delivered under a transaction of purchase the purchaser has such power even though

•(a) the transferor was deceived as to the identity of the purchaser, or
•(b) the delivery was in exchange for a check which is later dishonored, or
•(c) it was agreed that the transaction was to be a "cash sale", or
•(d) the delivery was procured through fraud punishable as larcenous under the criminal law.

What is being noted specifically is the difference between a 'void' title and a voidable title. That is, a thief has no title to pass, so when you buy him from him, you get the same title he had, which is none. But fraud (and some other acts) result in a voidable title, which is different - it requires a pressing of rights so to speak, a purchaser in good faith who buys from a seller with voidable but not voided title gains full title.

There is, however, the possibility of adverse possession, abandonment or any other number of ways that soemone could come upon goods that appear to be yours without having purchased from a thief. This is most likely why states don't automatically give you 'your' goods from a pawn store - you have to prove the superiority of your title and that typically requires a court.

Replevin is pretty interesting because it is an instance of specific recovery. Common law typically only allows for money damages in nearly any instance of harm, but replevin allows someone to recover an exact item. A replevin action typically requires the person seeking recovery to post a bond for the item with court before taking possession of the item (called a replevy) and then an actual suit for replevin - where rights would be determined as to the property - this would basically be the same as a detinue sur trover - a very old writ which is a type of interference tort.

Last edited by Darth Panda; 03-17-2010 at 10:46 PM.. Reason: sp
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  #38  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:17 AM
Uncommon Sense Uncommon Sense is offline
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Originally Posted by IAmNotSpartacus View Post
Because he's in possession of stolen property, and has received stolen property. Surely you've heard of the term 'fence' before.
Sure, you could also have your friend "steal" or "find" your camera, then go to the pawn shop and sell it. Come back and give you the money and then you go to the pawn shop and retrieve your item. A dishonest person could attempt to make money this way.
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  #39  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:51 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
WAG: If the pawn shop owner followed all the necessary regulations* and purchased the item in good faith**, why should he be out the money he paid for the item? That would be a law requiring him to take the place of the original victim.
The basic legal principle is called nemo dat quod non habet. Translation : Nobody can give away what they do not own. A thief does not legally own the items he stole. If he sells it to a pawn shop, then the shop does not legally own them. And if the pawn shop then sells it to a customer, the customer does not legally own it either. The original owner had the right to recover.

Someone who buys stolen property in good faith is not necessarily out of pocket - they can sue the seller to recover their money.
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  #40  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:51 AM
IAmNotSpartacus IAmNotSpartacus is offline
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Originally Posted by Uncommon Sense View Post
Sure, you could also have your friend "steal" or "find" your camera, then go to the pawn shop and sell it. Come back and give you the money and then you go to the pawn shop and retrieve your item. A dishonest person could attempt to make money this way.
You left out the part where the friend goes and files a police report under penalty of perjury.
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  #41  
Old 03-18-2010, 11:44 AM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Originally Posted by Darth Panda View Post
.... along with the common law right of replevin.
.
.
.
actual suit for replevin - where rights would be determined as to the property - this would basically be the same as a detinue sur trover - a very old writ which is a type of interference tort.
Ah, memories of "replevin for goods and chattels..."

Did you by chance go to law school in or take the bar for Virginia?
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  #42  
Old 03-18-2010, 11:54 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Originally Posted by Cazzle View Post
I have, NotSpartacus. I just hadn't thought of a person who unknowingly receives stolen property as a fence; I've always connected the term with someone who receives and sells goods they are aware were stolen. Isn't a pawnbroker required to refuse to buy goods they believe are stolen?
Yeah, and also pawnbrokers are well known for being honest, upstanding businessmen who would never look the other way.
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  #43  
Old 03-18-2010, 12:01 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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I saw that episode too.

I've noticed one of the first questions they ask is, "Where did you get this item?". If the story sounds phony, they won't deal with the person.

I wonder how Ebay handles this? I've read news articles where people claim they found their stolen stuff on Ebay. Proving it's ownership must be tough.

Quote:
I know that the History Channel reality show Pawn Stars isn't really a reliable source of information, but in one of the episodes cops came and took what turned out to be a stolen necklace and it was given back to the owner. The owner of the pawn shop commented that this is why they had to be super careful about not taking in stolen stuff, because they wouldn't make money off of it.

Last edited by aceplace57; 03-18-2010 at 12:04 PM..
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  #44  
Old 03-18-2010, 12:03 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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One more reason to hate pawn shops. The pawn shops in these parts are filled with obviously stolen merchandise. They are a ready market for burglars and smash-and-grab thieves.
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  #45  
Old 03-18-2010, 12:12 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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You know this thread is making me wonder: what if you saw an item that was stolen from you in a pawnshop and you simply took it? If this happened to me frankly that's what I'd do, and I'd dare them to call the police. (OK I might run, but I wouldn't feel bad about "stealing" back my own property)
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  #46  
Old 03-18-2010, 12:26 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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You have noticed the people working in Pawn Shops are armed? Same as liquor stores. They usually have a belt holster.

I'd think twice about grabbing and running.

Pawn Stars tries to show a more classy image. However, I've seen a rather large black dude in the background handling security.

Last edited by aceplace57; 03-18-2010 at 12:28 PM..
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  #47  
Old 03-18-2010, 01:01 PM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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Originally Posted by Bricker View Post
Ah, memories of "replevin for goods and chattels..."

Did you by chance go to law school in or take the bar for Virginia?
Nope. I went to IUB and haven't taken the bar - decided not to work in the industry, although I'm thinking of taking the bar just for the heck of it before I forget everything.
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