Law enforcement, dealers work on precious metal theft cases
PLUMSTEAD, Pa. (AP) — A recent jewelry theft arrest in Plumstead is just one recent example of the mutually beneficial relationship between law enforcement and precious metal buyers.
When a young woman stopped by Doylestown Gold Exchange in January with more than 40 pieces of jewelry she said came from a relative with an addictive habit of home-shopping, employees did not see any glaring red flags attached to the story.
As always, the business followed state law by photocopying the woman’s driver’s license and logging the purchase to be included in a routine email to area police departments detailing daily precious metal transactions.
The items, according to Plumstead police, turned out to be among those stolen from K-Mart and marked by the nationwide chain with a total retail price tag of more than $38,000. The woman allegedly used bolt cutters to break into three jewelry boxes inside the store.
Investigators say documentation of the sale, along with security images from Doylestown Gold Exchange, helped them recover the jewelry and lead to an arrest. Authorities were fortunate, they said, that the business is one that follows the letter of the law.
“They are on the up and up but there a lot of businesses out there that aren’t, that don’t do the right thing,” said Plumstead police Detective Kevin Larkin on Friday.
The relationship between law enforcement and businesses that deal in precious metals is one that both parties say is beneficial.
For jewelry stores, pawn shops and gold exchanges, having close and public ties with local police departments can serve as a deterrent to those trying to sell stolen goods, while also enhancing the store’s legitimacy to the law-abiding public, says Greg Glemser, who owns Doylestown Gold Exchange along with partner Kyle Goodman.
“It’s nice because people hear about it and they see our businesses and they’re not sure,” Glemser said from the store on Friday. “There are shady places ... but we try to do it right.”
On the police side, cooperation from these resale and liquidation shops can often make or break a case.
“It’s paramount,” Larkin added. “We rely on them.”
Larkin said some businesses, including Doylestown Gold Exchange, go beyond the obligations to the law, which states any precious metals must be retained in-store and unaltered for five full working days after the purchase is reported.
If an investigation gives police suspicion about certain jewelry, Larkin said Glemser and Goodman will keep it even longer.
“They always say ‘no problem’ and put it aside,” Larkin explained. “If we have a hunch, they’ll hold onto it for us even when they don’t have to.”
Records of such transactions, according to state law, are to be kept for at least one year.
Though mandated to send scans of precious metal purchases to its local police department in Plumstead, Glemser says he’s begun sending reports to Buckingham, Doylestown Township, Solebury and Central Bucks Regional police as he’s established relationships with the departments over time.
Refusing to purchase is within a business owner’s right, but Glemser says it’s not always easy to tell if someone is being honest about the origin of the items.
“We see so many types of people in here,” he added. “When we first started, (police) told us, ‘Listen, you guys are not the detectives. You buy the merchandise and do your job and then we’ll follow up.’”
Pricing also is complicated, he said, often ranging significantly between insurance replacement costs, retail value and a liquidation value.
“There can be substantial differences in those numbers,” said Glemser, noting that big-box retailers have been known to mark up prices on such items and that Sautner was likely never to receive a return close to the listed retail price of the jewelry at any resale establishment, which would likely just melt the pieces down.
Glemser isn’t sure when he’ll next be called upon by law enforcement, but he said he welcomes any opportunity to aid an investigation.
“I definitely see it as a win-win,” he said.
Information from: Bucks County Courier Times, http://www.buckscountycouriertimes.com