LOCAL 12 - Search Results
Paying the Price, Twice
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- When Al Leonard's home was burglarized on Thanksgiving Eve he felt violated.
Someone invaded his house and rifled through the bedroom where he and his wife sleep. Leonard said he felt violated again when he was told he had to buy back his stolen Kindle Fire from the pawn shop where the burglars sold it.
"I think that's terrible," Leonard said.
Leonard said Nathan Blevins and Heather Rains confessed to the break-in when they were caught several days later. The pair kicked in the back door of the Leonards' home in Brown Co. Two laptops, a wedding and engagement ring, a Kindle Fire, several work pins, and a two dollar bill he'd received as a gift when he was a baby and other jewelry was stolen.
"We were extremely fortunate that the people that broke in here were caught. That usually doesn't happen," Leonard said.
Blevins and Rains were caught when they broke into someone else's home believing no one was there. The homeowner was home and called police. Brown Co. Sheriff's detectives found out Blevins sold the Kindle Fire and the engagement and wedding ring set to Facet Pawn in Amelia. The store paid Blevins $65 for the rings and $30 for the Kindle Fire. The bad news: the store sold the rings for scrap. The good news: Leonard found out he could get his Kindle Fire back but there was a catch.
"The string attached to that is they paid $30.00 for it. So if I want it back I have to pay $30.00 for it," Leonard said.
Facet store manager Kevin Newkirk wouldn't discuss specifics of Leonard's case citing privacy laws. But he said the store abides by state and federal laws that regulate pawn shops.
"They have two options they can go with and they can either pay or go through the court system," Newkirk said.
Crime victims can ask a judge to order a pawn shop to return the property. But that process can be lengthy and expensive when court filing and attorney's fees are tallied.
While the Ohio Revised Code does not explicitly state pawnbrokers can charge a crime victim for their stolen property, it does outline a pawnbrokers' options to return it.
"If the chief or sheriff receives a report that property has been stolen and determines the identity of the true owner of the allegedly stolen property that has been purchased or pawned and is held by a licensee, and informs the licensee of the true owner's identity, the licensee may restore the allegedly stolen property to the true owner directly. If a licensee fails to restore the allegedly stolen property, the true owner may recover the property from the licensee in an action at law," the statue states.
"It's the practice within the industry," said Raph Tincher, Treasurer of the Ohio Pawnbrokers Association and co-owner of Ted's Pawn in Norwood.
Tincher says pawn shops are regulated by the state and are required to keep detailed records of the property purchased. That information is turned over to police daily and can assist in the recovery of stolen property. Tincher said it's a misconception that pawn shops buy stolen property and calls it a rare occurrence.
"We're just asking to be reimbursed the money that we put out of pocket. Not to be made a second victim in this case. We're not looking to get rich on somebody's misfortune," Tincher said.
While Al Leonard did get some of his stolen stuff back - including laptops, watches and that sentimental two dollar bill - the possibility of buying back his Kindle Fire isn't sitting well. He'd like to see some type of change to the state law to prevent shops from charging crime victims for their stolen property.
"I think it's silly that the person who is the victim of a crime then has to buy their own stuff back. It makes absolutely no sense," Leonard said.
Leonard said he was told he can take a receipt for the Kindle to the court and the judge can order Blevins to pay restitution. But with Blevins serving a prison sentence and Rains in jail awaiting trial, he doubts he would get any money back.
Police recommend photographing valuables including jewelry and keeping the photos in a cloud or Dropbox in case a computer or tablet is stolen. Pawnbrokers say any theft victim file a detailed police report as soon as they realize something has been stolen. They also recommend people keep serial numbers for their electronics handy to provide to police.