Thieves wanting a quick return from something stolen can easily use the Internet to make bank.
Stillwater police are investigating a case where they believe one person sold a stolen tablet online through Craigslist.
Stillwater Police Capt. Kyle Gibbs said a red flag goes up when a buyer sees $700 technology sold for something like $50.
Police can only speculate the item as stolen until its serial number is verified. For something small, tracking down the number can be tricky.
“They sell them cheap so that it sells fast,” he said.
But it doesn’t mean that every cheap item on the Internet is stolen. Police use the National Crime Information Center to discover what is stolen and what isn’t.
When something is reported stolen, it goes to the NCIC computer system and index for federal, state and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. The system is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, according to the NCIC website. The database also contains information on fugitives and missing persons.
Gibbs said the challenge is finding the original owner and the serial number. After it’s verified, police will seize the item. The original owner and the buyer both have property interest and may go before a district judge to see who gets it back, or what, if any settlement.
An Oklahoma City man recently recovered his trailer after the buyer was suspicious that the trailer had a previous owner, an Oklahoma City news station reports. Owner Seth Byerley’s stolen trailer ended up at a pawn shop in Newcastle. The buyer identified Byerley by a sign inside the trailer that still had Byerley’s business contact information on it.
Gibbs said it’s more likely that items are stolen from individuals. In that case, the item almost always is returned to the owner. Incriminating evidence can also charge a person for knowingly concealing a stolen item.
There is something all consumers can do if there is suspicion.
• Be cautious. Know who you are buying from.
• Check with police if it’s believed stolen; this tactic will scare bogus sellers away.
• If you have any reservations, don’t buy because you can lose the item and your money.