Thieves using online services to sell stolen goods

Saturday , October 18, 2014 - 11:47 AM

By LORETTA PARK Standard-Examiner staff

FARMINGTON — Thieves are using online classified websites instead of pawn shops more than ever before to get cash for stolen goods, officers said.

That is why they are warning the public to be wary of “good deals” that sound almost too good to be true.

“Our detectives have been investigating a rash of stolen goods that show up in online classified ads,” said Davis County Sheriff’s Sgt. DeeAnn Servey.

Crooks are using the online websites more because “usually there is no paper trail and all transactions are commonly handled with cash,“ Servey said.

A 38-year-old Clearfield man is facing a felony charge after an owner of a tractor lawn mower found it listed for sale online, deputies said.

According to a probable cause statement, the owner of the lawn mower reported it and other items stolen out of his West Point garage on Sept. 29. The owner got online and found a tractor that matched the description of his Jacobsen T455 Mower listed for sale.

”This lawn mower had multiple distinguishable marks and dents,“ the investigating officer wrote in the statement. And the photos posted matched photos the owner had of the one stolen.

Officers made contact with Haydyn Detwiler, who said he received the lawn mower from a friend, but because of his answers, officers arrested Detwiler and booked him in the Davis County Jail on one count of possession of stolen property. 

The Davis County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case before filing formal charges in 2nd District Court. 

There are a few steps the public can take to prevent their property from ending up being sold online, Servey said.

The first step is to write down serial numbers for all valuable items, like bicycles, tools and lawn care equipment. 

“The best thing you can do is have that serial number written down,” Servey said. “People just don’t take the time to write down that serial number.” 

Many times crime victims will see what looks like their property being sold online, but there is nothing officers can do if they do not have a serial number to match it with.

The second step is to lock up the items, she said. 

The biggest mistake many residents make is leave their garage door open all night. 

“Thieves will seize the opportunity to get what they want,” Servey said. 

If garage doors are open it is an invitation for thieves to enter and take whatever is lying around, she said. 

Also have lights on around your property, like motion sensor lights and outdoor porch lights. Lights discourage thieves, Servey said.

And for those who see a good deal online and want to buy it, Servey said, there are steps a person can take to make sure the item is not stolen. 

The first step is to arrange to meet in a public place. 

“If is is somewhere that does not seem appropriate, don’t go,” Servey said.

Servey said also be wary of any seller who wants money wired to them, will only correspond through email and also does not take any phone calls. 

And always ask for a bill of sale or a receipt to help ensure the item is not stolen. Servey said if the seller does not have either, take a photo of the person with the item.

“Most people have cameras on their phones,” Servey said. “If you take a photo of the person with the item, the it turns out the item is stolen, you have proof you bought it from someone else.”

Servey said if the item has serial number, the buyer can call any local law enforcement agency and ask to have that serial number checked with items reported stolen in the data base. 

Contact reporter Loretta Park at 801-625-4252 or lpark@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LorettaParkSE. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SELorettaPark.

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