Handling or receiving stolen goods is not a victimless crime and individuals or businesses who trade in these items can have a long-term effect on communities and residents.
Why do people trade in stolen goods?
Most burglars, street robbers and other prolific thieves steal to raise money and they therefore need to sell what they steal. To get money, the ‘successful’ thief must complete two objectives without being caught. The first objective is to steal something valuable, while the second objective is to sell or trade the stolen goods. Ultimately, the prolific thief’s main aim is to acquire something else with the money gained from selling the stolen goods, often drugs or alcohol.
Why does this impact on the community?
Studies have shown strong links between the stolen goods market and the drugs market because most thieves and burglars have admitted stealing to fund a drug habit.
Research has also shown that thieves will gravitate towards an area where they can easily sell on stolen goods. A shop or individual buying stolen property from a thief is known as a ‘fence’. Criminals like to sell on their stolen goods quickly and so they will generally be more active where they know a fence is operating.
Adding these two elements together can cause problems for a community. A fence, or number of fences, working in an area will encourage thieves into the neighbourhood because they know that they can quickly sell on their stolen items. This, in turn, increases crime and drug use, impacting heavily on a community and its residents.
What is being done about it?
There are many agencies across Derbyshire working to tackle the stolen goods market and to address the underlying causes of these crimes.
Derbyshire Constabulary is running Operation Lurcher, a Home Office funded project that aims to tackle the stolen goods market in the following ways:
By raising public awareness of the harm caused by buying stolen goods;
By engaging the business community about the risks and consequences of buying and selling stolen goods;
By carrying out enforcement activity, including search warrants against known and suspected handlers of stolen goods;
By encouraging the use of asset registration schemes such as Immobilise.
You can download the Operation Lurcher poster from the Related Documents area of this web page. You may already be familiar with this poster, which is displayed in several businesses across Derby and Derbyshire.
How can I help this project?
Operation Lurcher relies on information from the public to help us target our action and take the necessary steps to protect the public.
Do you know someone who might be handling stolen goods? Have you ever been offered items that you believe to have been stolen? Do you have information that could help us to tackle this problem in your community?
If you have any information that could help police to tackle the stolen goods market, please call 101. Alternatively, you can anonymously pass information to the police by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.