Must a Pawn Shop Return Stolen Property to Its Owner?

Imagine that someone breaks into your house and steals something. Let’s say it’s a laptop. A week later, you see the laptop in a pawn shop. You want it back, but the shop owner says that he paid $200 for it. Must the shop owner give it back to you for free? Sell it back to you for what he paid for it? Or is he free to sell it to you on whatever terms the two of you negotiate?

This appears to be a question that is discussed quite a bit on the internet. See, for example, here, here, here, here, and here. In this post, I give what I think is the correct legal answer.

The property belongs to the owner. The general rule is that “[a] purchaser of goods acquires only that title which the transferor had or had power to transfer.” Paulino v. Computer Renaissance, 62 S.W.3d 648 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001). Because “[a] thief’s title to stolen property is void,” i.e., “is no title at all . . . all subsequent transfers of [stolen] property [are] likewise void.” Id. Thus, when the pawnbroker bought your stolen laptop, he did not become the owner of the property. It doesn’t matter whether the pawnbroker bought the property directly from the thief or from someone else who bought or received the property from the thief. No one downstream from the thief in the chain of possession becomes the owner of the property. It’s still your laptop.

It doesn’t matter whether the pawnbroker acted in good faith. G.S. 25-2-403 is the “good faith purchaser for value” provision of the Uniform Commercial Code, as adopted in North Carolina.  It says that a person with a “voidable title” can transfer good title to a bona fide purchaser. But a “voidable” title means a title obtained by a voluntary but fraudulent transfer, like those listed in G.S. 25-2-403(1)(a) – (d), not “title” obtained by outright theft, which is “void.”  (The rationale for treating these differently is to encourage owners to be more careful and sniff out fraudulent deals, whereas presumably nothing can be done about theft.) Compare Alsafi Oriental Rugs v. American Loan Co., 864 S.W.2d 41 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1993) (pawnbroker obtained good title to rugs when he was a bona fide purchaser of rugs from a swindler who obtained them through fraud), with In re Two (2) Bose Speakers, Serial No. 121098, 835 P.2d 1385 (Kan. Ct. App. 1992) (pawnbroker did not obtain title to stolen speakers, despite buying them in good faith, because thief had void, rather than voidable, title).

What if the pawnbroker refuses to release the property? Notwithstanding the above, the pawnbroker may be reluctant to give to you something for which he just paid $200. Sometimes contacting law enforcement helps, as an officer may be able to facilitate a return of the property. A friend of mine had the experience of standing in a pawn shop and pointing out his property, which the officer plucked from the shelves and handed to him.

An officer may also seize the property as evidence. In that case, you may be able to ask a judge to return the property to you at the conclusion of any resulting criminal case. See G.S. 15-11.1(b) (“After final judgment, all property lawfully seized by . . . law-enforcement authorities shall be disposed of as the court . . . in its discretion orders.”).

Contacting law enforcement won’t always help. Some agencies appear to have a policy of not getting involved in this kind of dispute, which they view as a civil matter. Then, it may be necessary to take legal action to recover the property from the pawn shop. Some people conclude that buying their property back will cost less than suing the pawn shop and wind up addressing the matter in that way.

As far as I know, North Carolina doesn’t have a specific statutory framework for bringing an action to get one’s property back from a pawn shop, so you would need to file something like a general action to recover possession of personal property. This is in contrast to states like Florida, where Fla. Stat. 539.001 provides that property owners may file a claim with a pawnbroker seeking the return of property. If the pawnbroker doesn’t return the property, the owner may file, for free, a petition with a court. If the court orders the property returned, the pawnbroker must pay the claimant’s attorney fees.

Further reading. The main statutory provisions about pawn shops are G.S. 66-385 et seq. I don’t think that anything there bears directly on this question.

Feedback welcome. As always, if readers think my legal analysis is mistaken or incomplete, please post a comment or email me directly.

48 thoughts on “Must a Pawn Shop Return Stolen Property to Its Owner?”

  1. What about charging the pawn shop owner with possession of stolen property if he refuses to relinquish the item in question.

    Also, would it be proper to ask for restitution on behalf of the pawn shop owner in criminal court or would there need to be a separate charge against the suspect (say Obtaining Property by False Pretense) directly related to his transaction with the pawn broker?

    • I’ve investigated these crimes before, and my agency actually pays the pawnshops up to a set amount of money to recover stolen property.

      Generally, these cases result in several charges, we typically call it the B&E Package – the initial B&E or burglary, the larceny, the possession of stolen property, and then obtaining property by false pretenses.

      Also, if a pawnshop refused to return property (it doesn’t happen in my jurisdiction, since we are going to reimburse them anyway), I don’t see why they wouldn’t be charged with possession of stolen property after being made aware that the property is stolen. I don’t understand the premise behind an agency saying this is a civil dispute. If someone stole something, then sold it, it isn’t a civil dispute. It originated as criminal and remains criminal. That’s just lazy police work in my opinion.

      • Thanks to you and everyone for the responses.
        I’d say we’re on the right track with how we’re doing things and I’d agree with the general sentiment of the comments that the civil issue route is a weak out.

      • Omg we just got robbed by family members on drugs took a family heirloom I inherited big coin collection they went to a xenia oh coin shop 10 times in a matter of 3 weeks coin shop gave them over 1400.00 for my silver they signed the papers all 10 times I filled a report I had renters ins, which now I know only covers 200 dollars theft of coins cops and court said I can’t prove coins r mine omg look at my teeth and look at theirs really …so I lost most of my coins have to pay a deductible and can’t get my stuff back they walk away w a mistimner .

  2. This is an interesting area of law, and one which I find particularly frustrating. We have state laws which require pawn shop owners to record certain information about transcations – they take the license of the seller, document the transaction, and even have to wait a certain period of time depending on the merchandise before selling it to the public or otherwise releasing it. They also generally list the property in certain databases (LEADSOnline, PawnTracker to name two). This assists officers in recovering stolen property that is listed in other reports and identifying it.

    Where it gets tricky is when the pawnshop owners start trying to get wiggle room in the system. Instead of listing the model # in the proper field, some have in the past listed it in the serial # field, and vice versa. This way it is less likely to trigger a hit or alert to the local agency looking for stolen property. They sometimes won’t document serial numbers at all, just the basic model, like “iPhone – black” rather than say, “iPhone 5S” or something.

    Despite this, some agencies have a policy of actually PAYING the pawnshops for the merchandise, up to a certain value. The way the agency approaches this is that these guys are basically giving them a slam-dunk case for possession of stolen merchandise and obtaining property by false pretenses at the least, with maybe even the initial larceny charges and burglary if applicable charges thrown in. The pawnshop owners feel like they should be entitled to money back for helping out the police.

    Of course, this ignores the larger issue of the fact that pawnshop owners should perhaps realize that when they keep buying property from the same sellers over and over, and it’s always new or like new items there’s probably something amiss. Pawnshop owners tend to be tacitly complicit in the crimes because there is no consequences for them. They buy property that a reasonable person should know or suspect is likely stolen, and if the cops seize it they are reimbursed in these jurisdictions. If the cops don’t seize it, then they get to make even more money than they paid for it. Win-win for them.

    Of course, there are also agencies who simply pay nothing to a pawnshop owner and say “that’s stolen merchandise, you cannot buy stolen merchandise because the seller had no right to it, give it back” and they will return it to the owner. The pawnshop owners might not like it, but there’s little they can do except play the cat-and-mouse game of trying to minimize their reporting to the databases so the officers investigating crimes are less likely to find the stolen property.

    • Good point about the pawn broker not being careful because he is paid back regardless. I am a pawn broker in Montana and we get a pawn warrant and then have to turn over the goods. I just got stung for $1000.

  3. At my agency, the officers seize the property as evidence and it is held until a court disposition or an order from the court is received. If the real owner wants the property back, the owner can pay the pawn shop the cost of the item, and it will be returned. This policy came into effect for several reasons:
    1. Victim owner recovers their stolen property, then refuses to appear in court, thus ending the prosecution of the case, leaving the court unable to order restitution to the pawn shop when you cannot prove the property was stolen.
    2. Most (not all) Pawn Shops in our area work closely with law enforcement. We do not want to create another victim, if possible. I understand the pawn shop is a victim if they purchase stolen property and the property is seized as stolen property. However, the shops are more likely to report suspicious activity and work with law enforcement if there is a good chance they will recover their loss when the case goes to court.
    3. If our agency pays the pawn shop for the property, the tax payers cover the cost of the theft. I do not believe the court can order restitution to the agency, for the same reasons it cannot order restitution for Crime Stoppers rewards. Thus, we have the same issues noted in #1.
    4. I have had victims that want their property back, and do not want to pursue criminal charges for the theft. Some due to the thief being a family member or an old friend who fell on bad times. Sometimes, it could be the fact that they knew the property was pawned and some people will work the system to get it back so they can do it again.
    I understand that being a victim of a B&E, theft or both is a terribel thing and I wish we could do more to lessen the impact. But with human nature the way it is today, we have to be careful not to empower people to work the system.

    • I think the owner should get there property back and the Pawn Shop should go after the person that pawned it and got the money

  4. In my jurisdiction, we prosecute the person that sold the stolen property to the pawn shop with obtaining property by false pretenses and request restitution from the court. The pawn shop then becomes a victim.

    Chapter 66 of the General Statutes mandates that the seller sign a statement indicating, “THE PLEDGOR OF THIS ITEM ATTESTS THAT IT IS NOT STOLEN, HAS NO LIENS OR ENCUMBRANCES, AND IS THE PLEDGOR’S TO SELL OR PAWN.” We also release the property to the legal owner upon the proper owner signing a document indicating that they will retain possession of their property and bring it to court if necessary.

    I am actually shocked that a law enforcement agency in this state would treat such a matter as a civil issue. Such a policy would suggest a law enforcement officer ignore the stolen status of property. Does it matter the current state or location of property if it is in fact stolen? Would the police treat it as a civil matter if the stolen property in the pawn shop happened to be a stolen department issued handgun? Such a policy also seems to supplant the intended purposes of Chapter 66 requiring pawnshops to report transactions and be inspected by the police.

    Pawnshop and cash converter store transactions solve a large amount of break-in cases and sometimes is the only evidence used in the prosecution using the doctrine of recent possession.

  5. I would be interested in hearing what agencies are doing in reference to enforcing the Pawn Shops and Cash Converters reporting laws. My agency is a bit short on man power right now but we plan on ramping up the enforcement in area due to the lack of information being reported as well as the misinformation being reported. We have cited the owner of the business on occasion but the judge made us shake our head at the ruling he provided in the case. Thanks

  6. The property belongs to the owner. That’s the reason it’s so important to “mark” your property, especially high ticket items, i.e., electronics, firearms, etc. More difficult to prove ownership with jewelry, all the more reason to take pictures of your property. Bottom line, if it means that much to you, protect it as best you can. Pawn shops are required, by law in MOST jurisdictions, to record such purchases with the seller’s information and forward such records of certain properties to local police departments daily or at least weekly, depending upon the jurisdiction. A suggested action to take here would be to contact the local PD/SD, or jurisdiction in which the theft occurred and is recorded (hopefully the theft has previously been recorded) for the investigating officer to instruct the pawn shop to retain the property as evidence to a pending investigation, and confiscate it. In this way, it becomes evidence of a CRIMINAL OFFENSE and not a civil dispute. Once the culprit of the original theft is apprehended and brought to justice, the pawn shop can petition the court for restitution OR request subpoena to testify during the criminal court proceedings. Once the court’s requirement is satisfied the property can be returned to its rightful owner, per their request, or disposed of properly, negating benefit to any party.

  7. While the example relies on the public visibility to pose the likelihood of one stumbling across one’s stolen property, similar issues surround craigslist, eBay and other online businesses.

  8. I own a pawn shop. We won’t release any item to anyone other than law enforcement. Even then they have to give us a receipt. Anyone could claim an item was theirs, we obviously need documentation. Here are the reporting requirements for pawn shops in the state of North Carolina.

    § 66-392. Record-keeping requirements for currency converters.
    (a) Every currency converter shall keep consecutively numbered records of each cash
    purchase. The currency converter shall, at the time of making the purchase, enter upon each
    record all of the following information, which shall be typed or written in ink and in the
    English language:
    (1) A clear and accurate description of the property purchased by the currency
    converter from the seller, including model and serial number if indicated on
    the property.
    (2) The name, residence address, phone number, and date of birth of the seller.
    (3) The date of the purchase.
    (4) The type of identification and the identification number accepted from the
    (5) A description of the seller, including approximate height, weight, sex, and
    (6) The purchase price.
    (7) The statement that “THE SELLER OF THIS ITEM ATTESTS THAT IT IS
    (b) The seller shall sign the record and shall receive an exact copy of the record, which
    shall be signed or initialed by the currency converter or any employee of the currency
    converter. These records shall be available for inspection and pickup each regular workday by
    the sheriff of the county or the sheriff’s designee or the chief of police or the chief’s designee of
    the municipality in which the currency converter is located. These records may be
    electronically reported to the sheriff of the county or the chief of police of the municipality in
    which the currency converter is located by transmission over the Internet or by facsimile
    transmission in a manner authorized by the applicable sheriff or chief of police. These records
    shall be a correct copy of the entries made of the purchase transaction, shall be carefully
    preserved without alteration, and shall be available during regular business hours.

  9. What happens if someone buys a stolen good from the pawn shop and neither the pawn shop or member who bought it knows it’s stolen till after the fact? Does that person get their money back for the item, keep the item, or lose both the money and the item?

    • I work in a pawnshop and unfortunately we do sell items that have been sold to us or pawned and eventually sold before the claim is made that the item was stolen. Also unfortunately we do not keep identifying data on anyone who buys items from us expect firearms as it is not required and really if you were buying a CD or Hammer would you want to give your info? We work closely with our local law enforcement but these things happen.

  10. This was always a question and thank you for such a descriptive answer.I think that it is always recommended that the person who claim that the item is theirs always need to produce the proper documentations.

  11. If there’s any question of ownership, I lean toward seizing it as evidence and falling back on GS 15-11.1(b), as it is not the prosecutor’s job to determine ownership. A case landed on my desk today that could be a Bar exam question: Defendant takes girlfriend’s credit card without permission and buys a gun from a dealer. He then takes the gun to the pawnshop and sells it. The pawnshop doesn’t want to turn over the gun to the officer, who then asks me “who does the gun belong to?” Doesn’t matter, I say; seize it as evidence and let anyone who thinks they own the gun file a petition with the court for an order under GS 15-11.1(b).

    • How is it not the prosecutors job to prove ownership? Without knowing who owns it there is no victim or damage therefore no crime.

      • Easy: Two counts of felony grade (without regard to value) Obtaining Property By False Pretense, N.C.G.S. 14-100. The property obtained by the false pretense is the credit card itself, which has some nominal value, from Girlfriend, and and\or the sum of money charged to her credit card account that she is responsible for repaying. And there’s also the cash derived from the illicit transaction with Pawnshop. The “victims” are Girlfriend and Pawnshop. The false pretenses made are obvious. Also, see N.C.G.S. 14-133.9 and 14-113.13, Financial Transaction Card Act violations, one of them a felony. The “ownership” of the gun in this example is immaterial to these offenses, and need not concern prosecutors and law enforcement. As Alex states above, “…seize it as evidence…” and let any contending claimants pursue their legal options. There is plenty of heat here that can be applied to Defendant by law enforcement and prosecutors.

  12. Our local police department here in Florida told us that if someone’s stolen property is found in a pawn shop, the true owner would need to buy it back because the pawn shop took the item in good faith. The police said that when someone pawns an item, they provide a thumbprint at the pawn shop when paperwork is completed. So if the stolen items are found in a pawn shop, the police can take the thumbprint, try to match it against criminals in their database, and make an arrest. However, since the pawn shop took the item in good faith, the owner of the item would need to buy it back. To me, that adds insult to injury, especially since these criminals are likely to just get a slap on the wrist especially if they are juveniles and then they go back on the streets and resume their criminal lifestyles.

    • You are looking at matters from only one perspective. Consider this true story, I am a computer repair person…I have a ton of video and audio recording devices inside and outside my store (for numerous reasons). A woman arrives with a couple of computers for sale. I decline the one but decide to test the other for any value. The lady tells me she only is asking $20.00. I give her the money after assessing that there might be some greater value in the computer. Later, LIKE A FEW DAYS AGO, I find that after repairing the minor flaws of the machine, that the computer’s name is GOD! Okay, I named it that…we’re talking octo-core (8) with 16gb memory and 2qty 1TB drives and water cooled with a radiator and a video card that is surprisingly very pricey…etc
      So, now looking at this matter from my perspective: WHY SHOULD IT BE ALRIGHT TO TAKE MONEY FROM MY POCKET AND THE MERCHANDISE TOO? In other words, let’s say there’s a game-player out there that needs a quick fix and comes to you to sell an item with the preconceived motive to later claim it stolen thereby effectuating the free money the accomplice helped to secure….does that sound fair to you?
      In short, the laws are engineered so that only major conglomerates are to be sale-worthy…the rest of us walk on egg-shells.

    • My stepson had his guitar stolen. Found it at the pawnshop, got the police involved. went through the whole process of court, (he identified the criminal as an acquaintance and it matched the pawn ticket for name and item) He won the case. Police never returned the guitar even after repeated inquiries over 2 years. He was given a cash equivalent settlement of $300 on paper. He got a total of $20 from the criminal in restitution. One payment and nothing ever again. He did everything right and got nothing in return.
      I would not blame him if he chooses a different route if there comes a next time.

  13. Question… I am a pawn shop owner in the state of Indiana… When we actually buy something.. (Not pawn).. And we do everything our local police require.. (Reporting all transactions buy or pawn)… And we sell the item to a customer.. And months later.. The police determine the item was stolen… Can the owner of the stolen item have the right to civil sue the pawn shop… Months past our ownership..

  14. If someone steals your property, pawns it on Mon and returns on Thursday to pay back the loan and get it back . when they receive an item ,don’t they have to report it through the system and wait for verifaction that it is,in fact stolen before they can give it back or sell it to anyone ?

    • There is a big difference between pawning an item and selling an item. When someone pawns an item they are getting a loan and using the goods as collateral. When someone sells something to a pawn shop they are transferring ownership.
      If someone stole your property, why on earth would they want to pawn it? They either stole it because they wanted the item or stole it because they wanted cash. A thief would not steal something and pawn it (use it as collateral for a loan) and then return to pay back the loan and get the item back. A thief would sell an item to a pawn shop in which case the pawn shop does have to wait a certain period of time before they are able to SELL it (transfer ownership of property again).
      In other terms, a pawn is a loan in which someone is using their property as collateral for a cash loan. They are never transferring ownership of the item. While it is pawned the pawn shop stores it for them but they never own it. When the loan is paid back the pawn shop gives them back their property that they still own. When someone SELLS something to a pawn shop they are transferring the ownership of goods to the pawn shop and the pawn shop before selling them and transferring ownership again they need to make sure the items arent stolen because then they would be selling stolen property. They do not need to make sure something that was pawned isnt stolen before giving the items back to the person that owns them because they are not transferring ownership to a third party they are simply returning the items to their owner after storing at their facility for the owner. When the owner pays the loan back the pawn shop returns them to the same owner.

  15. Question? An individual purchases a weapon from a friend and then later pawns the weapon. A few weeks later the individual is informed that the weapon is actually stolen and has been for over 5 years and the original owner has been compensated by his or her insurance company for the weapon. The police does not acquire the weapon back thru proper chanels/paper work. Who is entitled to the fire arm? The original owner? The second purchaser/pawner? The police or the pawnshop?

    • The insurance company is entitled to the firearm. They will sell it to recover as much of the loss as possible.

      Insurance companies have salvage teams they send out to recover property. The policyholder will not have to go out of their way to return the item.

      If the policyholder wishes to retain possession of the item, he or she will be required to reimburse the insurance company for the amount paid over the deductible.

  16. I think in this case there are two victims the owner of the property and the person who bought in good faith. The owner has lost their items and the person who bought in good faith is out of pocket. The criminal should be the one to pay any costs accured. We have a similar case here. My husband has a computer shop (small business ) just enough for him to pay his bills and provide for his family. A man known to him and we are neighbours with their family offer some goods for sale as he claims he doesn’t use them and he needs money. My husband trusts his word as he’s known to us and the items are not getting used and the seller needs money urgently. These items are in interest to my husband ( DSI.. LAPTOP.. AND COMPUTER TOWER) The seller wants £150 for all 2nd hand items.. my husband calculates and offers £130… he pays £100 and tells the seller he needs to test the others if all good will pay the other £30. They both agree on this. Same night a customer of my husband asks if he has a DSI … my husband confirms he has one and sells it on. Two days later we receive an email from the real owner claiming these items have been stolen from her home. My husband explains all as above and tells the owner the DSI is sold. She requests to get it back. My husband refuses this as it’s bad for business and suggests that they need to take it up with the person who sold him these as he is known to them. Expained we have all except the DSI. The owner is asking how she can get it back ? My husband explains he can’t as its sold. My husband explains the person who took this needs to replace the DSi. The owner not understanding our situation as my husband says well who is going to pay our money back as we out of pocket aswell. The police are now involved but not spoke with us yet. Anyone know where we stand please. We run an honest business and bought in good faith.

  17. I just found out that a ring that I owned was pawned. It has been almost a year since my ring went missing. I have pictures of the ring. I obtained the ring after my sister died. I have no papers on the ring, just pictures. It was pawned a year ago. I’m back in the state where it was pawned. What can I do?

  18. This is often a touchy subject for most pawnshops and the victims. Many pawnshop operators never knowingly buy stolen property because they know scenarios like this can occur. However, if someone identifies their property and can provide evidence that it is indeed theirs, most pawnshops will release it to them out of goodwill. In some cases though, both parties would have to reach an agreement, with the property owner reimbursing them part/all of the money to partly or fully cover their expenses during the purchase of said item.

  19. My mothers necklace and diamond charm was stolen from our home. I’m almost positive I know who it is. If I find it in a pawn shop, but only have pictures of my mom wearing it, is this enough proof? And if I give the pawn shop the name of the person who I’m pretty sure took it, and it matches their records, are they obligated to tell me? Or do I need to file a police report as well? She is devastated, I’m determined to find it (hopefully). What is the best way to go about this?

  20. My daughter borrowed an expensive iPad of mine for a day now found out she pawned I have a right as legal owner to report it to police to see which shop she pawned it to and what are my rights to getting it back in Fl.

  21. Hi. Im a musician from Oklahoma I bought a guitar cabinet from a mutual friend/musician in cash who I used to play with who later on down the line had to fire from the band. later when we fell on hard times I had to sell it to a pawn shop, over a year later I get word that the guy I bought it from walked into the same pawn shop and just so happen to see the cabinet and when he realized it was his old cabinet claimed it was stolen and demanded it back, got the police involved but didn’t want to file charges, however the pawn shop now has filed charges after giving him the cabinet. I need some advice here because I didn’t steal anything and of course he could identify the cabinet cause he used to own it. What are my options????

  22. Jonathan, I would suggest contacting legal counsel in Oklahoma. The vagaries between jurisdictions would require someone with expertise in Oklahoma law.

  23. I am curious i live in WI and my items where removed from my home without my permission. I knew who took the items and that is who is at the counter of the pawn shop however the police and DA have determined they don’t have evidence to convict and since there is no conviction is there a way for me to still get my property back?

  24. I have situation where the pawn shop is the ones who stole my iems worth thousands. I was retrieving items that i had a new loan with and told me that time had expired on the ticket and sold it. In OR law is 30 days after in which nothing can be done with goods if not redeemed or forfeited. Which at time i still had a grace period 30 days. They claim they did not have to wait thirty days for them to sell. So am taking them to small claims my question is if i dont know value of my priceless heirloom how can I recover anything beside the small loan amt. I received on items.

    • A grace period is a courtesy and not legally enforceable it is merely a courtesy to you. You have no legal right to the property once you breached the contract by not retrieving your items by the date your loan was up.

  25. If it was a television and a gaming console and I still have the original packaging could that help in getting my stolen property back?

  26. I had a question: 25k of jewelry was stolen, i made a police report. The accused sold coins locally and police found the SLIP at pawn shop confirming it was sold by this person. HOWEVER the police reported to me that the pawn shop no longer had the coins, as they were sold.

    When the police handed the case to a judge, a judge denied an arrest for lack of evidence (the coins were apparently bought for about $50/60) and the police were not able to recover the coins bc they were already sold.

    So, this person is not being charged for the coins (or any of the stolen jewelry which was NEVER recovered) and I am out of my inherited coins.

    Sound normal?

    What to do next, if anything?

  27. I’m in n.c. And I was robbed I went to a pawn shop within days off being robbed and found one of my rings. The ring was pawned under a person I know. I ask the pawn shop if my other stuff was there and they told me no. I found out a little bit later that they had all my stuff and melted it down or sold it. What can I do about it

  28. my vehicle was stolen and the towing company wants me to pay them $2000.00 to get it back this should not be legal why should I be punished for some idiot stealing my property it should not cost me any thing

    • The towing company performed a service when they towed your vehicle. They had no way of knowing it was stolen and even if they did it would be irrelevant because towing companies tow stolen vehicles every day for the police, to impound them, for insurance companies, etc. When they towed your vehicle they used a tow truck that costs about 80k, they used diesel fuel which the company had to pay for, they had to pay their driver for the service he provided by towing the vehicle as well as pay the dispatchers who dispatched the call and took all of the information. In addition to the time the driver spent towing the vehicle, hooking it up, towing, driving, dropping the vehicle there is also a great deal of paperwork that needs to be done, VIN and mileage need to be recorded, a ticket needs to be created with the year, make, model, color, drive type, etc. When they performed this service which cost them money to perform which they had to pay their driver and dispatchers for they were also losing money by not being able to do other work because their time was being spent towing your vehicle. They then obviously stored your vehicle in their yard which they pay rent for which cost them money and they were not able to store other vehicles for other paying customers. Of couse you have to pay them if you want the vehicle back. The towing company has to file paperwork with the DMV ten days after the vehicle arrived at their yard because it is in their possession and this begins the process of them obtaining ownership of this vehicle if the owner (YOU) does not pay them for their services. After ten days they are legally required to file paperwork with the DMV in order to start the process of them acquiring the vehicle. If you do not pay them in 90 days the vehicle legally becomes the property of the towing company and a new title is issued in the name of the owner of the company who is now the owner of the vehicle, not you. Before the new title is issued to the owner of the company you will receive a letter from the DMV informing you that you only have a few more days to pay the towing company for their services before the vehicle becomes legally theirs. If you do not pay at this time you no longer own the vehicle because the towing company is given the vehicle in lieu of your payment. HOWEVER, the towing company STILL has the legal right to go after you for the charges you owe for the towing and storage. This will go on your credit report and they will sue you in civil court. If you do not pay your credit will be destroyed.

  29. I have been involved in pawn shops in several states my whole adult life. Myself and every owner I know handles stolen property the same way If the original owner files a theft report and prosecutes, and the items can be identified (serial numbers, pictures if unique, engraving etc) we have always cooperated with the authorities and the pawnshop takes the loss. In my 20+ years in the business I have only had to do this 3 times, most thieves know that pawnshops fill out paperwork and require ID so there are better places to sell stolen property. On the other hand I have had 100’s of item sold to me by family members who were the thieves and unless mom and dad file a police report and PROSECUTE there little angel I am not obligated in any way to return the item. If the customer is reasonable I will usually sell the item back for what I have in to it. However, I’m amazed how many parents think I should be financially responsible for their child who steals their property comes to me and signs a legal document that says they own the property and have the right to sell or pawn it. Legally coins are handled differently since they are money, it is a money for money transaction and no paperwork needs to be filed (most pawn shops still report coin purchases) and the coins, unless extremely rare or registered are not distinguishable from other coins. Because of this most stolen coins are sold to Coin dealers or Jewelry stores since they don’t file paperwork.

    • I find it absolutely inconceivable that a parent could possibly think you are financially responsible because their child stole their items and sold them. If they don’t want to prosecute they should consider it a blessing that you are willing to sell them back the items without prosecuting at all, and if you do it for the cost incurred to you they should consider it a blessing and thank you!

  30. Shit such as some of these pawn shop owners try to pull under their “good faith” excuse is exaclty why some poel take a gun and no recover their property.

    If Mr. “good faith” pawn shop fence isn’t guilty of buying selling stolen property then I can’t logically be guilty of taking property that belongs to me.

    It;s no wonder pawn shops have such a filthy reputation.

    Just becuase you bought something without asking questions doesn’t make you right, Mr. pawn shop fence.

  31. Here is a story for you and I need help figuring out what to do. My grandpa is 101 years old and has been collecting coins his entire life. His son brought his coin collection to a local pawn shop to have the collection appraised. A few days later by grandpa went to the pawn shop to pick up his coin collection and the pawnbroker gave him back his binder and found it empty. My grandpa asked where all of his coins were and the pawnbroker explained to him that his coins had been stolen. He explained that he appraised the coins around $600 but would give my grandpa $1000 just for the troubles. My grandpa knew that one coin in particular in his collection was worth up to $10,000. Later, the pawnbroker explained that the coins had been mixed together with other coins and it would be impossible to return my grandpa the coins he originally brought in. Obviously, the pawnbroker stole my grandpa’s coins and trying to pull a fast one. My dad called the police and filed a report and they told him they cannot do anything and that my grandpa will have to file a civil lawsuit against the pawnbroker.

    Has anyone ever experienced something like this? Everything I am looking up discusses if the pawn shop can sell stolen goods brought in but nothing about the pawn shop stealing the items themselves. Any information will help, thanks!


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