Cops target 2nd hand shops

| 04/02/2011

(CNS): The country’s top police officer has said that there needs to be a new law passed as quickly as possible to regulate the purchase of second hand jewellery by dealers in order to stop thieves from fencing their ill-gotten gains through these stores. Police Commissioner David Baines said recently that stolen goods are finding their way into these stores, so there is a need to compel businesses to log the details of the people they buy from and to prevent the dealers from melting down jewellery for at least seven days. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

The theft of jewellery was not a common occurrence in the past in Cayman but now that several “cash for gold/jewellery” stores and other second had traders have emerged burglars are using these establishments to offload the stolen items, which are either sold on or melted down.

Baines explained that while local burglars once focused on cash and electrical goods the police are seeing a lot more jewellery being stolen now as well.

“Onetrend that has become apparent is that there’s been a shift in the types of property burglars are looking for. Electronic items and cash are still being taken, but now, more than ever, we’re seeing burglars take jewellery. We have over the past few months recovered some stolen items from businesses which specialise in buying and selling second hand electrical equipment and jewellery,” the commissioner said recently.

He said that, as a result of this latest criminal development, the RCIPS is now in discussion with the Legal Department with a view to “placing additional responsibility on second-hand dealers and pawn shops to produce comprehensive records to the police on demand.”

Baines also said he wanted to prevent the disposal of melting of breaking down of property for at least seven days after the dealers have purchases goods. “These proposals would protect the consumer and the outlets, as well as making it much more difficult for people to make a quick buck from stolen property,” Baines stated.

Speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce during the recent ‘Be Informed’ series, Baines said it was important that these businesses assist the police with appropriate record keeping about who sold them the goods and the registration plate of the car they came in.

“We don’t want to deny people the lawful right to trade in second hand goods but we need businesses to act legitimately,” he added. The commissioner said that if the stores were to keep proper records then they could demonstrate that they were trading lawfully and they would then be free to sell on or melt down the property they had bought.

However, he said where dealers were consistently found with stolen goods and suspected to be trading in stolen goods the police would act. “We have already recovered stolen goods from second hand stores and … I am now going to write to the shops,” he said.

The commissioner said it was about people acting reasonably but once legislation was in place it would be easier to see where business were not being responsible. Baines noted that with the changing dynamics of criminality the police had to be able to move quickly to address trends and it this case it would require legislative support. While the registering and logging of second hand goods sales was new to Cayman, it was widely used in other jurisdictions.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The police need to team up with these shops and possibly open their own shop secrectively. This would help them get their noses on the street to help trace back some of the stolen items. Only a very small percentage of these transactions are stolen items so its not like its a huge problem. Dollar wise, there is much more money laundering going on in so called legitimate businesses than however many 2nd hand shops there are here. Who checks that all the new stuff that is imported here is not stolen from somewhere else?

    All of this is the same knee jerk reactions that our island is already known for. If you don’t know enough about something or somebody then they have to be doing something wrong. They’ll cry to shut em down! There are thousands of these type of businesses all over the world. It gives people another way out to get money in time of need. The criminals will always figure out a way to fence their items and weave their other illegal means into legitimate businesses.

  2. Just Commentin' says:

    Hey Baines! Brilliant! Pass more laws making crime illegal. What a splendid idea.

    More laws should really take a big bite out of crime! Wow! Who woulda thunk?!

    While we are at it maybe we should pass laws making stealing jewelry illegal. (What? Such laws already exist? Darn. I guess somebody already covered this.)

    Ok, maybe we should pass laws making dealing in stolen goods a crime. (Huh? What you mean we already have such laws? Gee. Seems like this one is taken too.)

    Hmmm….???  If we already have laws making it illegal to do illegal stuff, then why are having such a problem with so many people doing illegal stuff and not getting caught? Makes ya wonder. Not enough laws against doing illegal stuff I guess. More laws, that is the answer to crime!

    Anyway, I think that Baines has a great idea here. Especially in light of the fact that enforcement of anti-fencing laws will probably fall under RCIPS responsibility. This will give officers something to do other than trying to prevent robberies and murders and other illegal stuff. I mean the RCIPS is so on top of crime these days that they need something to keep officers occupied. No? Busy work like enforcing a new anti-fencing law will help alleviate the boredom that police officers must feel in such a crime-free jurisdiction as the Cayman Islands.

    Bains should be promoted to Top Cop for having such a brilliant idea. What? He already is Top Cop? Gee…I cannot imagine why we are having a problem with stolen jewellery in the first place with such an outstanding guy at the helm. Maybe we need a new law dealing with this.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Baines needs to stop hiding behind secondary issues and excuses and start puttiing armed police response units and surveillance teams on the streets of Grand Cayman to stop these armed gunmen holding Cayman to ransome first……

    Then go after the pawnshop owners who are fencing stolen property.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is there  any news on finding Anna? Havent heard anything lately.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Let me know if anyone sees my Wifes Wedding ring that the tilers stole from my house. It is has red rubys and diamonds and says “Dolphin Girl” on the inside of it. Nice….you pay someone to do a half way job on your house and they steal your wifes wedding ring too

    • Former watch owner says:

      SORRY for your loss of your wife’s wedding ring. MY TREASURED WATCH WAS STOLEN FROM SMITH’S COVE ON SUNDAY BETWEEN 1PM AND 3PM. I saw in the bathroom too a note that said WATCH YOUR VALUABLES, MY BACKPACK WAS STOLEN early February 2011. Such a beatiful place, such a shame this is happening. I THINK ANY GAL WEARY OF WHERE THEIR VALENTINE’S GIFT CAME FROM SHOULD CALL THE POLICE OR GIVE THE ITEM TO THEIR PARENTS. This is devastating.

      • anonymous says:

        Gals: If you are weary, or even wary, of the provenance of your Valentine’s gift, the first thing you do is distance yourself from your "love". Give it to the police, but good God don’t pass on gifts you suspect as stolen to your parents or anyone else!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This melting down of stolen gold jewelry has been going on here for a couple decades.

    Just look around and notice the wannabe “thugs” strutting around with their “bling” on prominent display. A lot of odd, personalized pendants molded from stolen jewelry and some mismatched rings and bracelets.

    You and I both know most, if not ALL of them have never had the honestly gotten resources to buy this gold at proper retail prices.

    To me, it’s the immediate sign of something acquired by theft.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I think that you will find that most items are being shipped off island. This law will do nothing to stop the problem.

  6. Dred says:

    I believe that these stores should do the following: 1) photocopy drivers license and passport 2) Require seller to take a full frontal face photo in store. 3) Proof of home address such as utility bill. I believe somewhere in there someome whoknows they are selling hot items will choose not to proceed. At that point their info should be passed on to the police.

  7. Anonymous says:

     Aren’t  sites like Ecay Trade and the market place on Facebook individualized pawn shops? I don’t see what the problem with these places are since they are essentially the same thing. Also from what I have read it seems like some of these place are at least trying to take ID’s as records. At least they can’t sell guns at pawn shops like they can in the US. Run and tell that, homeboy!

  8. Anonymous says:

    For the Police to show genuine concern for criminal offences regarding stolen items they should think about opening up or supporting these shops behind the scenes. Where else are the criminals going to get fast money? The criminals steal it, the Police buy it back and tie it to a crime and then go arrest them. I wonder why the Police can’t see it this way? Oh well, they’ll ‘we can’t be in that type of business’……buwhaaaa hogwash. Get out of the medieval times sirs. The world is changing and you need to change with it to fight crime.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have sold jewelry already at a local shop called The Trading Post. You have to give your home address, PO Box and work/home/cell phone numbers. While all of that CAN be made up, they also ask for your Cayman drivers license and take a photocopy of it.

    That’s what they should do and are doing. Not sure about the aother cash for gold operation.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I hope that Mr. Baines is consulting with ALL of these so called “offloading” second hand stores before proceeding with legislation and proper proceedures for catching these criminals. It looks like the current establishments have good business practices setup, however, a closer look should be taken to those buying jewelry on the street without a business licence. My thoughts are that this is where most of the stolen goods move….on the black market, not through legitament establishments.

  11. Anonymous says:

    All incoming items should require a log entry with ID provided, signed declaration of provenance, and waiver agreement before cash is exchanged.  

    Rather than spending a day writing a suggested jewelery sales procedure manual (and informing the media about it), why not make an appointment with the owners and sit down with them and review their inventories.  There are only a handful of these merchants, how long could that take?  

     

    • Pending says:

      You would think that when these businesses applied for their business license that some sort of protocol for dealing with this would have been part of their business plan……No need to legislation, its already there, its called money laundering, duh?????????????

    • Protect the bad guys? Be ashamed! says:

       WHY do we have two sets of rules?  One for the well connected wealthy and one for the street criminals?

      Just two months ago we had a local big wig jeweler buy a "hot diamond" off two slick tourists without ANY anti-money laundering Know Your Customer rules implemented or adhered to. There should have been an immediate Suspicious Activity Report made, but instead he found out his "find" was stolen when he looked into it.  

      Come ON!!! a $2million dollar diamond buy id okay, but we are going after the guys trying to hawk stolen gold chains???

      The SAME say the story broke about the hot diamond, a young man was busted for buying a new blackberry in a box off a friend and was sentenced to wear an ankle bracelet.

      Sorry, but the illegal diamond deal should have that jeweler lose his license, not get a reward.  Like the blackberry, there was no receipt or proof of ownership.

      Trafficking in stolen goods should apply to ALL merchants and citizens…..Mr. Bains, what is the follow up on the HOT DIAMOND DEAL (or is are political contributions and connections enough to protect the unscrupulous jeweler?)

      • Anonymous says:

         "One for the well connected wealthy and one for the street criminals?"

        True.  You try take a gun through the airport, you go to jail but a tourist take one and nothing happens.  I know a man a few years back who brought in a gun and used that same excuse that he didn’t know it was there.  Nothing happened to him because he’s wealthy and was buying land all over the place.

  12. Sleuth says:

    Mr. Baines, here is an idea for you.

    This is a small island.

    Just simply call a series of town hall style meetings for all work-permit employees in the various categories, prioritise the risk by category, and finger-print everyone. Leave no stone unturned and exclude no one.

    We need action and now.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you look at the stats, it would appear that it’s the Caymanian’s who are committing most of the crime on the islands, so i am not sure your plan would be that effective? Surely you meant to say finger print everyone irrespective of nationality?

    • Anonymous says:

      Only work permit holders?

    • Anonymous says:

      Only people on Work Permits are committing crimes? I believe that last set of figures issued by Govt. showed that the majority of inmates in Northward were Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      But the people responsible for these crimes are, by and large, NOT work-permit holders but fellow caymanians. How many people arrested for murder and theft last year were foreign – not very many. This is a home-grown problem, and we have to accept that our communities are responsible before we can start putting right our problems.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have to start somewhere.

      If work permit holders have nothing to fear and it proves otherwise then we can definitely increase the net.

    • Anonymous says:

      The “stats” and the composition of the innmates at Northward cannot of course tell us the nationality of the perpretrators in the current crime spree. Satistics are simply historical information of those persons who have actually been caught and convicted of a particular criminal act. How many armed robbers do you know that have been caught and convicted? No most crimes are insolved and we obviously cannot know the nationality of who is committing the crimes until the criminals are caught. Think logically rahter than prejudicially, folks.

    • Attorney says:

      The police cannot access massed fingerprints from the population or a significant branch of the population for crime detection purposes.  That is contrary to Art 8 of the ECHR and by analogy with similar breaches each person fingerprinted that way would be entitled to around $1,000 compensation.  So unless you want to risk a $25m bill, just keep the fingerprinting database to those charged or convicted of crimes.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Fine, let’s do this, it isn’t that hard, good pawn shops are doing this already.

    HOWEVER, haven’t you noticed Mr. Baines that it is businesses that are being targeted….let’s see about 7 so far for the year WITH guns now.

    Your focus is misdirected.

  14. Anonymous says:

     Ask for Valid ID and proof of address on any sale or pawn of any goods.

  15. Caymanconcerned says:

    These businesses should not need legislation for them to operate responsibly and therefore legitimately. They should be keeping appropriate records in the first place, anything to the contrary is just promoting the lowlife criminal element that is plaguing our streets today. Show some integrity merchants……ie. if someone comes up and sells me some ‘items’ out of the back of their car down a side street in the early am hours ; one should suspect that there is something ‘shady’ with the deal. Anyone who is directly profiting from the proceeds of crime should be dealt with accordingly.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am sure the LA will leap into action and have the necessary legislation in place by 2018, assuming they bypass the consultation stage.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If a shop buys a stolen item and they know or believe it’s stolen it’s called “Handling Stolen Goods”. As Mr Baines is well aware it’s been a crime for centuries. We don’t need a new law – we need police officers who effectively investigate and prosecute the existng laws.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s the problem. If the shop owner doesn’t ask any questions, and claims he had no reason to suspect an item was stolen, it’s impossible to prove otherwise in a court of law. This is about forcing shop owners to take responsibility and ask those basic questions. If they don’t ask them then they will be prosecuted, if they do ask them and the goods are stolen then their chances of raising funds from stolen property is reduced, and if they do ask them and the property isn’t stolen, everything is fine. Seems like a very sensible suggestion from the CoP to me. What’s there to criticise? The crime situation will never be fixed by just having a police force on the streets, it needs community relationships building, laws amending as is suggested here, greater professionalism within the police force, and a better judiciary. Progress takes time.

  18. Anne on a Moose says:

    Easy
    No-one can sell jewelry without a valid picture ID (recorded by shop owner) and signature and declaration of ownership.
    Shop-owner must record all transactions and digitally photograph all items bought.
    Shop-owner must apply anti money laundering rules in that he must advise police of any questionable transactions.
    Failure to apply any of this leads to shop owner being liable for prosection and closure.
    ……..That’s it

    • Concerned says:

      Point taken,but showing an ID does not say where the jewellery came from. Showing an ID does not prove nothing more than it is an ID. We do not need such a business on this Island, because first of all who is going to trade their good jewellery for cash. It is encouraging criminals to steal, Not only jewellery, but anything that can move. I would suggest that the police check that place every day. If a swap shop can be legalized here, we might as well open up a casino and lottery shop.

  19. Johnson says:

    With all due respect, what about ACTION! I am hearing too much TALK! I want to see RESULTS! I want to see local officers equipped and properly trained to tackle robberies!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the headline should have read "COPS JUMP INTO ACTION AGAINST THE KNOWN 15 CRIMINALS" lets get our priorities straight here.  Where I know stolen goods can be pawned, the proper identification from the individual pawning the goods should be enough. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that the CoP has started to tackle the problem of training – we’ve had stories on CNS about partnerships with the university and training schemes with present and future officers. Do you seriously think it’s possible to flick a switch and all of a sudden people are educated? When the Commissioner was honest about some fundamental problems in the level of education seen in some police officers, he was condemned on these pages, now people say officers need training. Let the man get on and do his job – to turn the mess around will take time. The gang problems seem to be under control, now burglaries and armed roberies are a problem – they will be taclkled in time to. Things do not happen overnight.