Don’t Buy Stolen Precious Metals!
There are many reasons to avoid buying stolen items of jewelry. One practical reason is that if you do buy items that were stolen, they could be confiscated by law enforcement agencies. Another, more important reason is that even if you buy “hot” items without knowing they were stolen, you are supporting a number of criminal gangs that engaged in violent crimes. Even if you buy those items from pawn shops or legitimate jewelers and have no idea that you are trading in stolen goods, you are contributing to a form of crime that is big and getting bigger.
Crime Trends Reported by the FBI
According to the FBI, more than $100 million worth of jewelry is stolen every year. Who is doing those crimes? The FBI names several key players. The biggest crime rings are South American Theft Groups, which the FBI calls SATGs. And make no mistake about it, they are violent organizations. They like to target traveling salespeople who sell to jewelry stores. Another favorite crime is to perpetrate “smash and grab” thefts in which groups of thieves enter jewelry stores, smash display cases, and run with what they have stolen. Plus, the FBI reports, not all the crime rings in question are based in South America. A number of them are now operating out of the Balkans, and out of the United States. Bear in mind, these are violent crimes perpetrated by criminals who are armed and dangerous.
Fences who sell stolen items are another big part of the criminal operations. One new kind of fence, the FBI reports, are traveling fences who take items that were stolen in one city and sell them in other cities, where they are harder to trace. The FBI also points out that the most popular “fencing” cities are Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, and New York City.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Buying Stolen Items?
It can be difficult, because stolen items can appear for sale at legitimate businesses. They have changed hands several times before you ever see them on display in a jeweler’s case. Plus, it is possible that the jewelry items, bullion and other items you buy have been made from gold and platinum that came from stolen items that were melted down and refashioned into new items, making their history virtually impossible to trace.
But safeguards are in place. One is to buy from reputable dealers, jewelers and agencies. Some of them offer return policies on items you have bought, which is the kind of “good faith” policy that means that the company stands behind what it sells, and also is avoiding the potential losses that they could incur from selling goods that turn out to be stolen. Some reputable jewelers also offer buy back policies
through which they will buy back jewelry they have sold or allow customers to return jewelry they have purchased and trade up to more expensive items. That, too, is an indication that you are buying from a solid business that avoids trading in stolen metals.
Another way to take a stand against crime is to have your scrap recycled through a reputable, honest dealer that has been doing business for decades, not weeks – one that is an active member of industry associations and monitoring organizations. If you are looking for a precious metals recycler that fills the bill by operating ethically and honestly, we invite you to call us at 800-426-2344. We are here to answer all your questions about precious metals – honestly.