Kamaaina Loan blog has often pointed out how stupid a crook has to be to fence stuff at a pawn shop. Here’s an example
from Illinois that’s a little bit off the beaten path: Police busted two guys for stealing 100 bronze vases from cemeteries. That’s about $50,000 retail value of vases, though much less as scrap, which is what the crooks sold them for.
The buyer was a scrap yard, not a pawn shop, but in that jurisdiction both types of business are covered by similar reporting rules. (Same with Hawaii, although scrap metal dealers have their own ordinance.) In any event, the outcome was the same: a routine check by police turned up suspicious items, and from there it was a simple matter to get full identification of the sellers.
Harl said that it is not uncommon for scrap yards to turn away customers who are selling likely stolen goods. In terms of the vases, he said employees might not have been aware of what they were. Harl said it is illegal for a scrap yard to knowingly accept anything taken from a cemetery.
“A lot of these (thieves) will come up with a legitimate story before going to sell them,” Harl said. “This isn’t their first time around the block. If scrap dealers get suspicious of everybody, they won’t be in business for very long. They are in business to do business, and not necessarily to help us out.”
But, in doing their due diligence, and following with ordinance guideline, the scrap yards and pawn shops are helping out in a big way.
“The ordinance is stringent, and effective and something that allows us to keep close tabs on items being accepted by various dealers in the city,” Aurora City Spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.
Bronze memorial vases turn up in odd places sometimes. We saw an urn for ashes at a “Storage Wars”-type auction once. It was empty.
Somebody offering 100 ought to be enough to make any buyer curious, but the story makes it sound as if the thieves fed them into the stream of commerce a few at a time, spread over two counties.
Probably thought they were being clever, but you’d think if they were even a little bit smart, they’d have started having doubts after being asked the third or fourth time for their fingerprints.