I’ve Been Robbed What Do I Do Now!?
If you have been the victim of a crime, the single most important step you can take is to report the loss to the police. That’s because all pawn shops and secondhand dealers are required to report all transactions to local authorities and to hold onto the item for a specific period. Some of these requirements vary by state or municipality, but this is generally how it works.
Pawn Shops are regulated by local, state, and federal laws pertaining to loans, purchases and privacy issues. People often think when their property is stolen they simply go to a pawn shop and see if their merchandise is on display there, but it’s really not that simple. Here’s a description of the process and what you should do if your merchandise is stolen.
First, understand that Pawnbrokers and other second-hand dealers are generally required to report all transactions they make to local law enforcement. These rules apply to any business that buy items secondhand. These businesses are also required to maintain records of these transactions and report them to local authorities. This often includes providing pictures and descriptions of the items, a copy of their ID, and photos of the person who brought the item in. The pawnshop must then hold the item for a specific period, usually around 30 days although this varies by community, to allow the police time to investigate if the merchandise was the result of a crime.
Recently New England law enforcement agencies have centralized this information through NESPIN, the New England State Police Information Network, where all six New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) share the information of what has been brought into pawn shops and second-hand dealers across the region, allowing local law enforcement the opportunity to search a database for the entire region to see if items brought in were the result of a crime. This database is not available to the public but is accessible to local law enforcement.
As A Victim Of Theft/Crime, Here’s What You Should Do:
1) Call The Police
Call the police. The first step after you discover a theft is to contact the local police where the crime was committed. Police will be able to take that information and try to locate your items. They may have knowledge of other crimes in the area and will also be able to review the records kept by other police departments in surrounding communities to try and locate your items. Through NESPIN they can now also review the records for all New England to try and track your merchandise. If they can identify any items, they will then contact the pawnshop or second-hand dealer themselves to verify if the item is the one you are looking for.
2) If You Find It:
If you do find the item, either in police records or on display in a pawn shop or jewelry store, contact the police department where you filed your original report. Only they can request the records of the pawn shop’s transactions. Because of privacy laws, pawn shops are not allowed to give out any information on any customers they have done business with. At Empire Loan, even though we would like to help you recover your merchandise, we are not allowed to tell you how we may have obtained a particular item. Empire Loan will however provide that information to the police or state authorities. Since 1985, Empire Loan has worked effectively with local law enforcement to help people recover their stolen merchandise and we pride ourselves on being cooperative with the authorities.
3) Contact Local Pawn Shops
Contacting local pawn shops directly yourself: Pawn shops do not want to buy or lend money on stolen merchandise. In the end, pawn shops can be the only ones who lose if it turns out they have taken in stolen merchandise. If the merchandise you lost was unique, if you have pictures of it or serial numbers, in the case of electronics, that can help the pawn shop identify the item. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for pawn shops to track details about every item that comes in the door. Empire Loan has 8 stores and does hundreds of transactions in a typical day. This means if you lost a gold wedding band, it would be virtually impossible for us to tell you if somebody came in with one since we could have literally taken in dozens.
4) Know How Long A Pawnshop Can Hold Items
Checking in pawnshops display cases won’t always be very effective. First, pawn shops like Empire Loan hold onto merchandise for a minimum of 30 days before doing anything with it. If the item was stolen last week, it would be another 3 weeks before we’d be allowed to sell it. After the 30 days, we may melt the item down if it’s gold or silver or sell it online or to a wholesaler if its electronics or a musical instrument. That’s why it’s important to work with the police in trying to locate your items in a timely fashion.
5) Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company. If you have a homeowner’s policy or renter’s insurance you may be able to file a claim. While this won’t result in getting your original merchandise back, you may be able to recoup some money to help try and replace the items.
Empire Loan wants to help you recover your merchandise. Hopefully, the above information will help you figure out how to do just that. If you have any questions or need any further information, feel free to contact any of Empire Loan’s 8 locations or call us at 800-375-PAWN.