While you might think you are getting a good deal, Fidelity ADT is urging the community to stop and think twice before buying an item that may be a stolen item.
Linda Goodenough, Community Development Manager Fidelity ADT, says by buying stolen goods you are encouraging crime. “Criminals will only continue stealing if there is a market for their stolen goods,” she says.
If you have accepted possession of goods or property that you know were stolen, you would typically be charged with a misdemeanour or felony, depending on the value of the stolen goods. “If you did not know that the goods were stolen, you probably haven’t broken the law but you would have to return the goods to the real owner and report it to the SAPS,” she says.
Stolen goods are being sold generally through pawn shops, on online For-Sale sites, through social media platforms such as in market places, and especially by drug dealers. “The SAPS are working closely with pawn shops and many of these shops are doing a good job of keeping stolen merchandise out of their stores.”
Goodenough says the public needs to be aware of individuals called a fence. “These individuals knowingly buy stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit. The fence acts as a middleman between criminals and the eventual buyers of stolen goods who may not be aware that the goods are stolen.”
Drug users, she adds, will generally steal small things that they sell to get their next fix of drugs. “Its important to note that they won’t necessarily sell high value items. They start small so by buying these items you are encouraging them to escalate to bigger crime. It needs to be stopped while it is still small,” she says.
So, what can you do to stop this illegal activity? “If you see a stolen item on a social platform, site or elsewhere, contact your local law enforcement. Have the relevant information at hand, i.e. take a screenshot of the listing and/or seller profile. If you have been in contact with a seller of stolen goods, keep any messages you have received to be used as evidence,” says Goodenough.
She says that gate motors are a huge problem. “Mark your gate motor and parts inside the motor with a permanent marker. If someone sells you a gate motor which is marked in the inside, you will know that it is a stolen gate motor. Report them immediately.”
“If you suspect something is not quite right, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to question where an item comes from. And start managing crime in your home. Teach your children not to take items that are not theirs. If they do, help them return the item to the correct person.”
“We have to discourage the commission of crime. If we don’t, we are directly encouraging it,” she concludes.