Online searches could help you recover stolen goods - AmericaNowNews.com

Online searches turn up stolen goods

If your belongings have been stolen, don't sit by the phone waiting for police to call with good news. Instead, be proactive and get online!

Thieves are turning into internet entrepreneurs now that detectives are targeting their pawn shop re-sales.

"It's become a very viable alternative," according to Kim Simma, a pawn shop detective with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

Simma says the dot-com of choice for most crooks is usually Craigslist. The online website doesn't charge fees to sell items, and there is no paper trail.

Lucky for you, these sales will likely stay local.

So, if items you own have been stolen, log onto the Craigslist in your city and start making routine searches for any items that are missing.

Often, there's a picture or description and that's where you need to look for any identifying details like a sticker on a laptop cover, a certain color case, or even the shape of a scratch.

Simma says burglary or robbery victims often recognize their stolen goods with accuracy on Craigslist.

She says many victims will call the seller to ask for the item's serial number, or to arrange to meet the seller in person to look at the item. 

"This is exactly what we don't want you to do," Simma warns. 

Police recommend against meeting the seller because it could spook the thief, or result in a dangerous confrontation.  

Instead, call the police or sheriff's office in your area, state your case, and let authorities do the rest of the legwork.  

"We want to catch the bad guys and you want your stuff back," Simma says.

If you're considering buying something listed on Craigslist, how do you know if the item was stolen?

"It comes down to that little voice in your head saying, 'This is too good to be true,'" Simma says.

EBay is another popular site where stolen goods are sold. At least there, you can look at a seller's history.

If they are selling bulk quantities of new, in-the-box goods that are less expensive than what you would find at a retail store, Simma says you should think twice before buying, and call the manufacturer. Ask if they resell online and with this particular seller.

Simple observations can highlight other red flags like if the seller doesn't know how to use the product, or if the serial number has been removed.

"You do a little of your own detective work and if you think, that really didn't make any sense, then it probably doesn't make any sense," Simma says.

If this happens, that's when you probably need to call police and to report a potential rip off.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved. 

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