Watch out for stolen items for sale

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 9, 2018

Every year millions of property crimes are committed across the United States. The FBI estimates that victims of these crimes lost about $15.6 billion worth of property in 2016.

Often, thieves will sell stolen merchandise on websites such as Ebay, Craigslist, or even in person to unsuspecting acquaintances. There are several things a person can do to avoid buying stolen products unwittingly.

Larry Baxter, of Picayune’s Sportsmans Gun & Pawn LLC, says there are several ways to tell if an item was stolen without having to run the serial number. First, Baxter says that it is important to match the item with the person trying to sell it.

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“A young person just out of high school with a $50,000 ring just doesn’t match” he says.

If that person is selling a musical instrument, acquire proof that they know how to play it. Baxter also suggests inspecting a computer or cellphone that is for sale for pictures of the seller. Mechanical items can be confirmed by asking the seller if they know how it works. If the person trying to sell an item doesn’t have intimate knowledge of how it works, Baxter says they may not be the original owner.

One of the best ways to determine if an item is stolen or not is to call a local law enforcement agency and ask if an item matching that description has recently been reported stolen.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Department Shane Tucker says that when buying something from an acquaintance or over the Internet it is important to use common sense.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” he said.

For instance, if a particular gun is being sold at stores and pawn shops for $300 or more, but an individual is trying to sell the same gun for $50, it is more than likely stolen. When possible, Tucker said it’s best to buy items from trusted sources – such as a family member or close friend.

While Tucker recommends calling a local law enforcement if an item is undoubtedly stolen, he cautions people to be certain before making unsubstantiated accusations.

“Don’t report someone on a hunch with no support,” he says.