TPD beefs up pawn shop patrols with new unit
CREATED May. 3, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Police say too often, pilfered goods are put on the fast track to local pawn shops by crooks, looking to make a quick buck.
This week the owners of two Tucson shops, Gold Time Now and Cash Express, were charged with pawning stolen goods.
The arrests are the first major break to come from TPD's newest unit.
They are, say police, as guilty as the crooks who lifted the loot.
And often, it's loot lifted from people like Saul and Dian Rutin.
"They kicked the door in," explained Dian.
9OYS met this couple in March after they were victimized by a midday burglary.
Their home was ransacked. Their things were gone.
"They just grabbed here," said Dian.
But this case, say police, is part of a growing number solved by keeping a stronger finger on the pulse of Tucson's pawn industry.
"Property crime has always been a big problem within this community," said Lieutenant James Graves.
He runs the weeks-old 'Organized Theft Task Force'.
It's made up of roughly a dozen officers, keeping tabs on local shops and what those shops report, via a website called www.leadsonline.com.
"If it's a distinct piece of jewelry, they're supposed to describe the jewelry," said LT. Graves. "If it has serial numbers, they'll put serial numbers."
Pawn shops are required to list every item they purchase within 48 hours.
Police then check their database of stolen goods, against this list and against in-store stock.
"When they come in, they know what they're looking for," said Ronnie Oliver. "They ask the right questions."
Oliver manages EZ Pawn on South 6th.
He says the new unit is great for the industry, since horror stories like those of Gold Time Now and Cash Express frighten customers.
"We want them to come in here and absolutely understand that their stuff is safe," said Oliver.
And that's why he says most stores in town, including his, make it a point to pawn on the up and up.
Police say you can only use leadsonline.com if you are a law enforcement officer or a business owner.
That makes it all the more important, they say, to keep track of your belongings and report stolen goods as soon as possible.