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Old 05-12-08, 10:22 AM   #1
O-Town
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Should I press charges?

My Surly LHT commuter bike was stolen a while back. Today I was lucky enough to prove that my bike is being sold at a pawn show 30 blocks from my house. I will be recovering my bike later today. I'm ecstatic!

Now, the detective on my case is asking if I want to press charges (edit) against the guy who sold the bike to the pawn shop (/edit). The charge would be receiving stolen property. So my question is...

Have any of you had the similar experiences?
Did you press charges?
Did the case go to trial?
Was there a conviction?
Did the guy come back pissed off and steal more stuff from you?

Thanks,

Scott

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Old 05-12-08, 10:29 AM   #2
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I guess my question would be, how do they prove that the pawn shop knew the bike was stolen?
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Old 05-12-08, 10:32 AM   #3
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Several years ago I discovered a neighbor kid stealing crap from folks that lived around him, myself included. I called the cops at my wife's request. I was going to have a man to man talk with him, but my wife convinced me that I would probably be the one that ended up in jail.

The cops showed up, mom let them in to search his room and they found all kinds of stuff that was missing. They also found evidence that he was selling stuff to a local pawn shop. The cased the pawn shop out and found that the owner was hiring high school students to steal certain items for him. Several kids were arrested, the pawn shop owner was arrested, and no more stuff went missing from my neighborhood after that.

My point is that, yes, I think you should press charges. Many times these pawn shop owners know or highly suspect stuff is stolen. They don't care. If it starts affecting thier bottom line, maybe they'll start to care. In my case, the owner was not only aware, he was just as guilty as the thief.

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Old 05-12-08, 10:33 AM   #4
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Florida has a pawn shop law where every seller has to give ID and fill out a form so they can track down thieves who sell to them. I would go after the thief but not the pawn shop owner, unless you somehow know the pawn shop owner knew it was stolen.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:36 AM   #5
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Congrats on getting your bike back!

My opinion is that you are not likely to increase your odds of being a victim again if you press charges. You would be pressing charges against the pawn shop owner who is unlikely to be thief. - and I vote press charges. Be aware that you'll probably have to go testify if it ever ends up in court. That might be a major hassle.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:40 AM   #6
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I'm definitely not a lawyer...

Years ago my apartment was broken into, but nothing ever turned up. If I did find out that a pawn shop had some of my stuff I probably would have pressed charges.

Sure, it probably wouldn't have helped me, but maybe by pressing charges it could have helped someone else in the future, even if only to close down a local fence or at least make it harder to get rid of stolen property.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:43 AM   #7
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don't press charges. You may hurt the pawn shop's future in selling stolen goods.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Florida has a pawn shop law where every seller has to give ID and fill out a form so they can track down thieves who sell to them. I would go after the thief but not the pawn shop owner, unless you somehow know the pawn shop owner knew it was stolen.
I guess I wan't clear enough on my OP. I will be going after the person who sold the bike to the pawn shop.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:56 AM   #9
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I guess I wan't clear enough on my OP. I will be going after the person who sold the bike to the pawn shop.
I don't know why you wouldn't press charges...

All the bad stuff you mentioned could happen even if you don't press charges - in fact it might make you seem like an easy mark.
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Old 05-12-08, 10:59 AM   #10
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I don't know why you wouldn't press charges...
I must be a bit paranoid but...

If the guy gets off the charge will he come back to steal more stuff from me? That is the unknown I wanted some input from.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:05 AM   #11
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I must be a bit paranoid but...

If the guy gets off the charge will he come back to steal more stuff from me? That is the unknown I wanted some input from.
Do you know where he lives? How did he steal it in the first place?

For most pro-thieves, its a business. No point in getting into vendettas.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:14 AM   #12
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Absolutely... The arrest will be for theft by receiving as opposed to theft by taking. It may open up new leads for the detective to investigate this guy to see if he has sold/pawned stuff at other shops and possibly get other people their property back. Also, if thefts start happening again then they have someone to look at as a person of interest if this guy still lives in the area.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:20 AM   #13
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I would....

JMHO
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Old 05-12-08, 11:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
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I must be a bit paranoid but...

If the guy gets off the charge will he come back to steal more stuff from me? That is the unknown I wanted some input from.
If you are robbed in any way, your first act should be calling the cops. Your second act should be to review and upgrade your security. If your locks suck -- window, door, garage, bicycle, whatever -- change them. If you live in an apartment building, check with management about their security procedures -- how did the guy get in? If you're leaving attractive goods where a thief will notice them and can easily get to them, then lose that habit. The guy who stole your bike is unlikely to do serious (if any) time for it -- of course he'll "be back", in the sense of being out of prison. So...where will he be, exactly, if you don't press charges? On the streets, out some money...but hey, that's okay, he knows where he can pick up a nice bicycle.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:28 AM   #15
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I'd press charges - if the case goes on record, the pawn shop is alerted to an interest by the authorities, and will (hopefully) be more attentive as to the source of their goods.

For the thief, this may be the wake-up call they need to stop stealing. True, it may make them more determined not to get caught, but at least this puts a kink in the pattern. At a minimum, it alerts their friends/accomplices that people DO press charges, and there may be a consequence.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:32 AM   #16
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pawn shops operate 'on good faith' that items being pawned are not stolen- the shop is not culpable in the crime, unless there is some kind of collusion where the shop knowingly buys goods that are stolen. a NW pawnshop owner and her family were recently convicted for directing criminals to steal specific types of goods, repeatedly.

press the charges.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:35 AM   #17
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Yes.

I'm surprised you're asking.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:46 AM   #18
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...If you're leaving attractive goods where a thief will notice them and can easily get to them, then lose that habit...

Bingo! lil brown bat wins the prize for guessing how my bike was stolen. I have a bad habbit of leaving my side door to my garage closed and unlocked. The thief walked into my back yard, checked the door and grabed the first bike he saw (my commuter).

All my bikes now get pad locked to the rafters and my garage door is always locked.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:49 AM   #19
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Yes.

I'm surprised you're asking.

Nuff said...I'm pressing charges.
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Old 05-12-08, 11:57 AM   #20
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Excellent - too bad you were put into this position. Let us know how things go!
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Old 05-12-08, 12:04 PM   #21
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I would ABSOLUTELY press charges. If not, then there has been no consequence for stealing. There should be a pretty stiff penalty for trying to profit from stolen goods.

BTW, I've got my heart set on a LHT eventually. Looks like a great ride.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:16 PM   #22
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Press the charges.

BTW... if the pawn shop has been following the rules, then they will be unscathed in this. I don't know about other states, but around here the shops operate under the good faith policy (good faith that the goods aren't stolen) as long as they report all of the serial numbers to the police. If the goods are later found to be stolen, the pawn shop is legally innocent of receiving stolen goods.

That said... running a pawn shop is usually just a sneaky legalized way of accepting stolen goods. I worked at a pawn shop when I was younger, and trust me... these pawn shop owners can smell stolen goods when they walk in the door. They just know how to get away with buying and selling them without going to jail.

Ways to protect your property and MAYBE get it back:
  • Record your serial numbers. This is the only way that you have much hope of recovering your bike. Descriptions mean little or nothing to the police as they look at their lists. They will not make the connection when they see your bike listed as "Light Blue Bianchi". They need to see "Blue Bianchi bicycle Ser # 123456". Many pawn brokers depend on the fact that people cannot supply the serial numbers in their descriptions... and that makes it nearly impossible to match goods with owners.
  • Report the serial numbers to the police immediately. If you wait two or three weeks to get your bike in their lists... then it's prolly too late.
  • Search the local pawn shops early and often. Even though you notify the police of the theft, you must do your own leg work. One of the tricks that a less then honest shop will use is to wait until the last possible minute to send the serial info to the police. Knowing how busy the police are with other things, if the police even match the numbers... chances are your bike will already be long gone.
You were lucky to find your bike... congratulations!
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Old 05-12-08, 12:19 PM   #23
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I'd press charges.
If it's a first time offender, it'll be a wake up call for him, (hopefully) and the punishment won't be very severe. If a repeat offender, she needs to be stopped!
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Old 05-12-08, 12:21 PM   #24
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Thanks for all the responses. I'll keep posting if something interesting happens.

Scott
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Old 05-12-08, 12:27 PM   #25
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In Canada, you don't have the choice.
The investigating Constable has to charge when the Criminal Code has been broken.
No exceptions.
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