LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Rising burglary crimes, along with the rising cost of gold, led to an LAPD sting operation, targeting Cash-for-Gold stores that allegedly know they are buying stolen goods.
The sting operation started with officers listening on their vehicle radios to a conversation going on inside the store between an undercover officer and person he was trying to “sell” the jewelry to.
In the conversation, the undercover officer reveals to the store’s employee that he is a thief.
Despite the seller’s acknowledgement that the jewelry is stolen, the employee, Maria Miranda, still bought the jewelry, for ten percent of what it was appraised for.
“I had a feeling (that the jewelry was stolen),” Miranda told CBS2’s Joy Benedict following her arrest. “But if you would sell something, I’m not going to ask you ‘Did you steal it’, ‘Is it yours’, you know what I mean? You don’t want to offend people like that.”
“They’re opportunists,” LAPD Sgt. William Sanders said. “They’re more than willing to take these items.”
Monday’s sting operation marked the eleventh store the LAPD has targeted this summer. Eight of the eleven stores knowingly bought the stolen goods.
“When we had an escalation of the price of gold, what we were seeing in terms of the property taken from these reports was gold jewelry, gold jewelry, gold jewelry,” LAPD Captain Kris Pitcher said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander suggests that second-hand jewelry stores should have rules in place that regulate them the way they regulate pawn shops.
“They’ve got to file their fingerprint books, they’ve got to keep them on file for the police department to come in and take a look at them, they have to hold the goods for a minimum of 30 days,” Councilman Englander said.
The LAPD says that they will continue to target stores that they believe are knowingly buying stolen goods.