SALT LAKE CITY — What do you do if you find something of yours that’s been stolen from you at a pawn shop?
The answer is more complex than just proving to the shop owner that the item is yours, according to Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking.
“Going out and looking for items may not be the easiest way to go about it, but if you did happen to locate your item at the pawn shop you would need to notify a detective,” Wilking said.
Police can’t help much unless you filed a police report when you discovered your items had been stolen, he said.
If you find something of yours at a pawn shop, you can tell the shop owner that you’ll be notifying the detective who’s on the case.
“In order to help solve the crime, we would need to get involved,” Wilking said.
Law enforcement officers also have the ability to look at the pawn shop’s inventory database to help find out more information about items and solve crimes, he said.
To get your item back, though, it’s more than likely you’ll have to pay for it.
“The laws are written in such a way that the pawn shop doesn’t lose money, so that makes it a little difficult,” Wilking said. “You would have to pay to get it back.”
Often, you’ll have to pay the shop the amount the owner paid to bring the item in, so that the shop breaks even, according to Wilking.
Shop owners often have no way of knowing whether or not an item has been stolen, though they must determine that the pawn is legitimate, Wilking said.
Sometimes, though, shop owners aren’t totally honest, Wilking said, and the system lacks incentives for shops to verify that items aren’t stolen, he said.
Shops must verify a person’s ID if they bring in an item to pawn it, and all pawned items must be entered into a database.
Wilking said people should make sure to write down serial numbers for valuable items they own.
“The laws are written in such a way that the pawn shop doesn’t lose money, so that makes it a little difficult. You would have to pay to get it back.”
Some power tools don’t have serial numbers, so Wilking said it can be helpful to mark tools with a unique symbol or marking of some kind. Mark tools in an inconspicuous place so you’re able to show that you mark all your tools the same way.
“A lot of times when you’re talking about power tools and things of that nature, there aren’t serial numbers, so you have to have an identifying mark,” he said.
Power tools are commonly stolen and then pawned, Wilking said. Gaming systems, sporting equipment, bikes and jewelry also are common for thieves.
If people have valuable or unique jewelry, Wilking recommends taking a picture of it and keeping it on file. Police can send out pictures of the jewelry if it ends up stolen, which might help investigators locate it and get it back to the owner.
For bikes, Wilking recommends using two different types of locks to be on the safe side. Using both a u-bolt type lock and a chain lock makes stealing the bike more difficult for would-be thieves, he said.
“I highly recommend that people use more than one lock,” Wilking said.