OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - An Osceola County woman finds $90,000 of her stolen property on Craigslist.
The woman who found her property says it was being advertised online by a Winter Park pawn shop. Her work led Osceola County detectives to two suspects.
Jose Enrique Alicia-Ortiz, 22, and Yovany Lee Aponte, 19, are now facing charges for as many as six break-ins in the Regal Oaks Subdivision, which is just east of Celebration.
Michael Young owns Mike's Pawn and Jewelry in Winter Park. He is not connected to the Osceola County case, but he says he takes several steps to keep stolen merchandise off his shelves.
With the down economy, Young says he has been burned a few times by unknowingly buying hot goods as well as a fake autographed Babe Ruth baseball that he paid $1,000 for.
Before buying anything, Young tries to verify that the seller is the true owner.
"If they have a real nice Rolex or Cartier watch or something like that, (I ask if) they have the original box, the paperwork and where they've purchased it from," said Young.
State law also helps keep crooks away.
"We are required by law to get a valid ID card, a signature, and a thumbprint on each individual that comes in the store that sells us merchandise," said Young.
He then sends serial numbers and descriptions for every item he buys to local law enforcement. They can enter that information into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's stolen property database.
Finally, the law requires him to hold everything he buys for at least 30 days before putting it up for sale.
"That's allowing the sheriff's department to run this through the database to make sure these items were not stolen," said Young.
Local law enforcement also makes unannounced visits to pawn shops to ensure they are following all state laws.
Due to those steps, Young says less than 1 percent of his purchases turn out to be stolen, but crime victims still come into his store at least once a month looking for their lost treasures.
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