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Stolen goods on ebay, what to do?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Tim Cole, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I've recently gotten a new job, long night shifts. A total of 7 hours of the night are spent sitting in the office doing nothing. So, I bought a laptop off ebay, from what appears to be a pawn shop.....so I can surf the net, and such to help pass the time.

    I've never owned a mac before, so it took me a while to figure out how to navigate the thing, and even figure out how to locate, and open files. The more I looked at it, the more things I found on it that NO ONE would leave on a computer before selling it......very personal explicit writings, family photo's, tax info, and personal ID information.

    I looked around on it some more tonight, and found her email program on it, and sent an email to her address asking if she had recenely sold a mac ibook. The response was exactly what I had expected, "stolen from the Sacramento area around Christmas"

    I have continued communication with the theft victim, and she seems very happy to hear from me, and it's whereabouts. She said she had it replaced from her insurance company, and doesn't really need it back, but would like to have the important files and such sent to her, I have no problem doing this for her.

    I am however, extremely pissed about the whole deal. Here I am stuck with a stolen piece I can never sell, and I am pretty sure it is a felony for me to have this in my posession, now that I am aware it is indeed stolen. I don't want it!!!!!

    I need to know what the hell to do here. I CAN NOT afford to be out the $550 total I have invested in this thing, which is what will most likely happen if I call my local police and let them know I am in posession of it. The seller appears to be a pawn shop, and at least in this state, are required to check with authorities when they take something in like this. It was sold in the same town it was stolen from, I fail to see how they could not have known. The sellers have been royal dicks to start with, never replying to an email, ever....and rude on the phone when I had to call them about it. I'd like to get them booted from ebay for this personally.

    Anyone have any advice? I plan to call the shop tomorrow and demand my money back, then probably contact sacramento police after getting my refund and returning it. This is all I know to do.
  2. natrab


    Dec 9, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    As I recall, ebay has buyer protection up to $500. Maybe if you reported this and got settled, you'd at least get most of your money back. I'd then talk to the victim as they'd probably be willing to sell it to you after everything's cleared up for the $500 you got from eBay. Or else just see if they'd be willing to give it to you since you paid for it (and if the police bust the guys who stole it you may get your money back anyways). This is definately a good matter to hand over the police. Just check with ebay first to make sure you will get compensation if you do the right thing.
  3. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Thanks guys, she has already made it clear that she is very happy that someone who won't abuse her personal info has it. As said before, I am going to burn everything of hers on disc, and mail it to her. She even said she doesn't need it back, her insurance bought another one.

    BUT, it is still listed as stolen property, period. If the insurance company paid a claim on it, they are now the rightful owners of it, not her, not the pawn shop, and definitely not ME. I hate thieves, and really want someone to burn for this. I did nothing wrong, I just really hope that I get in no trouble for having this (Ibought it in good faith), and I don't end up losing my money.

    I want to get a refund before I do anything, to cover myself, but I am indeed going to contact the sacramento police one way or another. The theft victim has the report information on hand, and the shop who sold it should (BETTER HAVE) record of who sold it to them.

    Couple more questions:
    When I do send it back to them, she wants all of her personal info wiped, so it doesn't travel the world again, understandably. BUT, it seems like this may also be destroying evidence in the process.

    Secondly, I am thinking the shop won't have a problem refunding my money, but will want me to send the computer back to them first. Sorry, that aint going to happen, no way. What do I do if they refuse to refund first?
  4. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Did the original lady register the coupter with Apple? If she did, then her name is on file as the original owner of the computer, so there's some evidence for you if you wipe everything if necessary.

    I would call the police and the insurance people and find out what they would want to do. You sound like an unpstanding member of society; get all the facts from the proper law enforcement people and the righful owners of the computer. It's possible that the insurance company will just tell you to keep it.
  5. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Not sure when this happened, but I would be surprised if this happens with the economy and insurance problems the way they are. Insurance companies are all about recouping their losses in any way possible.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well, all ethical issues aside, there's probably nothing to be gained by pursuing this. You have a computer, it works, you paid a fair price for it, and that's that. If you hadn't been so computer-savvy, and didn't go poking around on the hard disk, you'd never have known about all this.

    Then, there's the concept that it's HER problem (the original owner's) if she had the computer stolen and the cops failed to catch it. She's the one that should pursue any further action. I'm not familiar with the laws in the state of California, but in other states the original owner could sue the pawn shop in civil court as well as pressing criminal charges (that would then force the pawn shop to prove that they went through the proper discovery procedures).

    Also, it would seem to be a considerable amount of work to go sifting through all the files and then burning a CD of the ones that "you" think might be relevant to her. It might be easier to clone the hard disk and send her the original, that way she can sift through the files at her leisure and pull the ones that SHE thinks might be important.

    With regard to eBay, it would be difficult to prove that the pawn shop did anything wrong, unless you can get the seller into a courtroom. If you contact the Sacramento police, they'll probably make you give back the computer, then the insurance company will demand their money back, and the end result of all that is that it'll be a HUGE hassle, not only for you, but also for the original owner, the insurance company, and the police.

    And, chances are, that if it turns out the pawn shop isn't at fault, and they have authentic information on whoever sold them the computer, that person might be long gone, or already in jail, or dead from an overdose, or whatever.

    So my question is, what will be gained by pursuing this?
  7. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    nonsqtr, I honestly really don't care who gets put up, locked up, or hassled by my returning it, I don't want it. It is registered a stolen item, which is illegal for me to posess, and I could never resell it if I wanted. If I can get my money back, and wash my hands clean of the whole mess, I am all for it.

    I contacted the shop today, they told me their process of buying things, and explained that either the report was filed late, after their 30 day holding of the item was up, or that by some freak occurance, it was simply missed. They have agreed to give me a full refund when I return it, and when they get it back, sacramento police, and the insurance company that did the claim are going to be contacted, and dealt with. They said they do indeed have a copy of the sellers photo ID, so that should take care of itself as well.

    As far as why I would bother copying her files for her? Just to be nice, and try to help out someone who was a victim here. This was a case of someone who ran their own business, and unfortunately just about lived out of this computer, there is some very valuable information on here.

    So to answer your question on what I am trying to accomplish here: A theft victim gets things back she assumed were lost forever, a thief will be charged for his lower than life actions, and I get out of this deal as a whole.
  8. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Tim, I hear you. That all sounds good, I commend you and admire you for being an upstanding citizen. Mainly I was suggesting an alternate viewpoint, but you seem to be very clear on how you want this to proceed, so "go for it", and good luck. Definitely send the item back registered, I don't believe the "missing report" explanation, there are very tight laws around pawn shop activity in most states, and they are inspected regularly and spot-checked randomly in the states I know about. I think the original owner is exceedingly fortunate to have had the computer end up in your hands.

    Also this kind of highlights some of the pitfalls of leaving unsecured personal information on your computer. I keep all my personal stuff on an external removable drive, and back it up regularly and keep the copies off-site in a fireproof safe. Many people keep a lot of personal info on their computers, and identity theft would be laughably easy given that kind of head start. And that's no fun at all, I know a woman who's still having problems after five years of that, and she has every possible legal and bureaucratic assistance at her disposal. That stuff's no joke in today's economy, where credit is king.
  9. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Bravo!! You did well, Tim. Congrats on showing some ethics and I'm really glad to hear that it's working out for you with getting your money back and stuff.

    brad cook
  10. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Well done. Doing the right thing is not always easy.

  11. Good job Tim! Your an outstanding guy and I'm glad you did this. Your a perfect example as to what to do for anyone else who ends up in this situation. I hope you end up getting some computer out of this to have around.
  12. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    Agreed, he has some serious credit in his Karma account. :)
  13. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN

    More people should do nice things like this, and the world wouldn't be such a ****hole.
  14. It's good to hear everything worked out

    ..... but do you own BEHRINGER products!!! :p
  15. Bad Brains

    Bad Brains Banned

    Jan 7, 2004
    Detroit, michigan
    I know it is illigle to own stolden property, but i think you would only get in trouble if you KNEW it was stolden. I would find it hard to believe anything would happen to you if you didn't know it was stolden, how would they expect you to know? Of course i could be wrong on this.

    You did the right thing however, as soon as you realized it was stolden you probably could have been held responsible in some way, i'm glad it worked out.

    I had my car broken into last week, my CD's, and cd player got stolden. Nothing was really worth much (most of the CD's were burnt), but it was still very annoying. I hate thieves as well, they are bogus.
  16. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    So you think Eddie Guerrero shouldn't be the WWE Champion?
  17. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    A slight turn of events here, I decided to send the thing to it's original owner, so she can go through it and get all she wants off of it. I guess a friend of hers is a mac technician, and has software to restore anything I, or anyone else may have deleted. After she is done there, she is sending back to the pawn shop I bought it from off ebay, so I can get my refund. I know this seems a little trusting on my part, but I think it will be okay.

    As far as crediting my karma account, I sure could use it after the week I have been having.......this is one of the MANY things that have been bunk this week. I'm just looking forward to getting my refund so I can look for a replacement......going to be a long, boring couple weeks at work until then.
  18. As bored as you may be, you did the right thing and who knows, you might even find a better one on eBay or some place to buy.
  19. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Even though she doesn't HAVE to and I'm sure you don't want her to, it seems that it would only be fitting for the lady to give you some type of reward. I would definitely do whatever I could to thank the person that did something like that.

    Awesome, Tim. Sucks for you, but at least it all worked out in everyone's favor! :)
  20. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Hi Tim,

    Congratulations on doing the right thing.

    I think you should contact eBay, also, and let them know that you were sold stolen goods; the pawn shop may be innocent, but then again, they might not be. It's worth having the computer's path to the pawn shop traced back as far as it'll go. Maybe the original thief can get tracked down and nabbed. If the pawn shop is legit, they'll be glad to flush out a suspicious source, and if not, eBay should be glad to.

    Where is the pawn shop located?

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