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Stolen goods returned to retailers, investigators still have many more in their possession

(Credit: Paul Nelson)

RIVERDALE – The Utah Attorney General’s Office gives back thousands of dollars worth of stolen goods to the retailers they were taken from.  However, it’s just a small portion of all of the stolen items reportedly sold at pawn shops across the Salt Lake Valley.

In the back of a pickup, officials from the AG’s office placed dozens of products like power drills, socket wrenches and other tools to bring them back to the Home Depot in Riverdale.  This was reportedly all taken by shoplifters across the Wasatch Front, then sold at pawn shops.

This particular shipment of stolen goods was worth roughly $5,000.  Supervising Special Agent James Russell says they’re happy they could give anything back to the retailer.

“It’s really, difficult, actually, in large quantities,” Russell says.

Last November, felony charges were filed against the managers of Big Dog Pawn and Jewelry in Murray.  Officials say the store had a pattern of knowingly buying stolen goods.  Investigators say shoplifters, or “boosters,” would simply just walk out with large amounts of products.  Sometimes, other employees of hardware stores would be so busy, no one would stop them.

In all, the AG’s office seized about $1.2 million worth of brand new products during their investigation.  Russell says the boosters mostly did it for drug money.

(One shelf filled with stolen items seized from pawn shops. Credit: Utah Attorney General’s Office)

“When you’re bringing in two brand new drills, setting them on the counter and saying you want 30 percent of the value of those… it really would require more vetting and questioning, which didn’t really happen in these cases,” he says.

Some of the items were in their original packaging, and some even had the anti-theft devices still on them.

He says, “It’s kind of obvious and begs the question, ‘Why didn’t they ask any questions?’”

Russell believes the pawn shop owners making a profit from these items simply didn’t care that they were stolen.

“We even, in this case, had a large construction compressor that was still bolted to the pallet it was shipped on,” Russell says.