Abilene police are working with local pawn shops to prevent the spread of stolen property and return those items to the rightful owners.
Sergeant Ken Robinson said the department has an excellent relationship with local pawn shops and the relationship is mutually beneficial since pawn shops do not want to buy stolen property.
Abilene pawn shops are required to hold the majority of their recently purchased merchandise for 11 days. Officer Chris Adams said the holding period helps police successfully investigate property crimes.
“If we didn't have a holding period it would make it much more difficult for law enforcement to actually recover stolen property because they wouldn't have a hold and they would be able to get rid of the property--sell the property--more quickly,” Adams said.
Though the holding period forces pawn shops to wait a few days to turn a profit, Lance Wolfe, owner of B&B Pawn & Trading Co., said those extra days also protect pawn shops, which will lose money if they accidentally buy and sell stolen property.
Wolfe said that is why they are careful about who they buy from.
“[We] ask them a few questions about the merchandise, if they don't know much about it obviously it's probably not theirs,” Wolfe said. “We're pretty cautious and we send them on if we don't get a good feeling about it.”
Sgt. Robinson said pawn shops are required to report each transaction on national website database www.leadsonline.com. He said the chance of returning stolen items to an owner is much higher when victims keep a record of the items’ serial numbers.
“Within a week of us originally rolling out LeadsOnline, which I believe was in either ‘07 or ‘08, we recovered a video camera that had actually made it up to North Dakota and that was based all off the serial number,” Robinson said.
In an effort to help pawn shops, Robinson said police often submit restitution requests to the district attorney’s office to compensate pawn shops that accidentally purchase stolen items.