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 thieves steal to raise money or to trade for drugs. To get money, the ‘successful’ thief must complete two objectives without being caught.
The first objective is to steal something that can be sold or traded, such as tools, computer equipment and even food. The second objective is to then sell or trade them - usually to a person, or on an internet auction website.
The 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 ‘handler’. Criminals like to sell on their stolen goods quickly and so they will generally be more active where they know a handler is operating.
This activity can cause problems for a community. A handler or group of them 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.
This is where you can help put a stop to this crime. Do you know someone who buys or sells stolen goods in your area?
If so, call us anonymously and together we can keep this criminal activity from your doorstep. An anonymous phone call can make a huge difference, so please ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Who are the victims?
There is a common misconception that selling stolen goods is a victimless crime but, in reality, this is far from the truth. To sell stolen goods, the thief must first steal the items. This means, somewhere, there is a victim of burglary, robbery or theft - all of which cause great distress, anxiety and fear for those victims. Are your family photos on a computer? Imagine the emotional cost of losing them.
This Crimestoppers video shows just how badly a burglary can shatter someone’s life.
But in addition to the victim of the original theft, the community where stolen goods are sold also badly suffers. Many households in an area where handlers operate will be visited by thieves and drug users.
You can help put a stop to it just by picking up the phone.
What is being done about it?
The best way to tackle this type of crime is to disrupt and dismantle the stolen goods market by making it harder for a thief to sell.
If they have nowhere to sell they will not be attracted to an area and the negative impact they have on the lives of people in those areas will disappear.
This is by no means a new concept - an 18th century London magistrate called Patrick Colquhoun once said: “It rarely happens that thieves go upon the highway, or commit burglaries, until the money they have previously acquired is exhausted,” and that “...without a safe and ready market he [the thief] is undone.”
There are many agencies across Derbyshire that working to tackle and disrupt the stolen goods market and to address the underlying causes of these crimes.
Derbyshire Constabulary's and its partners - including Crimestoppers and Derbyshire Dales and High Peak local councils - are running a campaign to encourage members of the public to refuse to buy stolen goods, and to report those who are buying them.
The campaign aims to tackle the stolen goods market in the following ways:
• Using adverts on buses to ask people how much they are prepared to pay when considering buying stolen goods;
• By raising public awareness of the harm caused by fuelling that type of crime;
• 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 property registration schemes such as Immobilise.
How can I help this project?
We rely 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.