Being a victim of theft is a disturbing experience! Almost equally disturbing is the difficult and long process for recovering your stolen property. Criminals can quickly dispose of your valuables by pawning them or selling them to pawnshops or selling them to second-hand dealers. More than 50 pawnshops and 86 second-hand dealers are licensed in Palm Beach County. Fortunately there are things you can do to protect yourself and to assist law enforcement if you should become a theft victim.
Keep a list of your valuables including detailed descriptions and serial numbers. For all expensive items be sure you have receipts and photos, especially those without serial numbers. Etch your name and social security number on items when possible. This will help the police search for your property and will also be helpful in recovery if found in a pawnshop.
Provide this list to the police so that they can check the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Pawnshop Tracking System. All pawnshops and second-hand dealers in Palm Beach County must report all items received to the Sheriff’s Office. Any law enforcement officer can check the System, but it cannot be accessed by the public.
You may consider checking the pawnshops/second-hand dealers in your area for your belongings.
- Pawned items must be held for 30 calendar days.
(With probable cause to believe the property in possession of a pawnbroker is stolen, law enforcement may place a written hold on the property for 90 days.)
- Items acquired by a second-hand dealer must be held for 15 calendar days.
(With probable cause to believe the property in possession of a pawnbroker is stolen, law enforcement may place a written hold on the property for 60 days.)
- While on hold, the pawnshop/second-hand dealer should not have those items on display. You may not see your stolen belongings.
If any of your belongings are found in a pawnshop/second-hand dealer you may attempt to get them back by notifying the pawnbroker/second-hand dealer by certified mail, return receipt requested, or in person with a signed claim to the goods. The claim must contain a detailed description of the goods and must be accompanied by a copy of the police report on the misappropriation of the goods.
If notifying the pawnshop/second-hand dealer to obtain your personal belongings doesn’t work, you can begin the legal process for getting your property returned. During this process the police may confiscate the property or place a hold on it. This will give you time to file a replevin petition with the clerk of the court. Identifiable serial numbers, etchings on property and receipts are helpful during this process. The only alternative to this court process is to buy the item back from the pawnshop/second-hand dealer.
No one expects to be a victim of theft but being prepared, by keeping detailed records, is the best way to assist law enforcement if your valuables are stolen. Following these tips will help you during the long and sometimes difficult process of retrieving your valuables after a theft has occurred.
Yes. However, the pawn shop cannot sell items sold to them until 15 days after the date they received it. If the item was pawned, it cannot be sold for 60 days. The property will probably not be on display in public view until then.
Yes. All pawnshops in Palm Beach County must report everything they receive to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
If you have a description of your stolen property or know the name of a possible suspect, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Pawn Shop Tracking System can aid in the recovery of your stolen goods. However, you should not contact the Pawn Shop unit directly.
All police officers in Palm Beach County have access to this system. Your officer is more familiar with the case and will best be able to use the resource. Please note, however, that this process can be very time consuming.
If your property is in a pawn shop you have several options. You can attempt to get your property by contacting the pawnbroker. If this doesn’t work then a writ of replevin can be obtained through the clerk of the court at no cost. This procedure takes time.
Allow the officer to confiscate the property or place a police hold on it. It will remain in the pawn shop until the criminal court decides on the final disposition of the property. Often times you can pay the pawn shop the amount of money they paid for the property and have the money returned to you.
To file a complaint against a pawnshop or second-hand dealer, contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at (800)435-7352.