Police busted a Tennessee pawnshop owner for allegedly selling millions of dollars of stolen merchandise, including on eBay.
The 10-month investigation led the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to carry out search warrants at four Music City Pawn locations, seizing about 1,500 to 2,000 items that appeared to be stolen.
“Whenever these businesses take in products that compromise stolen, primarily by shoplifters and boosters, they find an outlet such as Music City Pawn where they can turn around and sell it,” said Metro Police Lt. Michael Warren with the Property Crimes Division said.
“Most pawnshops will scrutinize something that comes into their store that’s brand new and boxed. We found out through our investigations over 10 months that Music City Pawn does not do that kind of diligence when it comes to the product walking into their stores.”
The MNDP investigation into Music City Pawn began with a tip from a local Home Depot store that found a lot of their products being sold online.
Police said their investigation led them to work with at least seven retailers including Home Depot, Kroger, Publix, Lowes, Walgreens, CVS and Target.
Pawnshop Operated eBay Store
“We know a lot of this is moved through their eBay store and to the tune of well over six figures, nearly touching seven figures so it’s a very substantial crime. It’s not a small crime,” Warren said.
“It’s a conduit for thieves to be able to upload stolen stuff for whatever they need it for. Whether they’re purchasing drugs, trying to find whatever fix they needed.”
While investigators said that some stolen items were sold at 15 to 20 cents on the dollar in the stores, it’s not clear if Music City Pawn’s eBay listings showed equally discounted prices.
eBay prohibits the sale of stolen property on its marketplace.
“Stolen property from private individuals or property taken without authorization from companies or government cannot be listed for sale,” the company’s ‘Stolen Property Policy‘ says.
eBay also states in its policy that the company works “with law enforcement in any attempts to sell stolen property on eBay.”
But how much eBay can do to prevent the sale of stolen products is unclear.
While there have been many complaints through the years, the reality is that unless eBay gets a tip from law enforcement, there is little it can do.
Even stolen art has been sold on eBay, and it was only a fortunate coincidence that it came to light and was returned to the rightful owner.
This will continue to plague the marketplace, and buyers need to take a critical look at ‘too good to be true’ listings.
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