NORTHERN UTAH — The Utah Attorney General’s Office is cracking down on pawn shops selling merchandise that is stolen.
Back in June, during phase 1 of their months-long operation, more than $1 million worth of goods believed to be stolen, were seized from seven pawn shops in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
Now, during phase 2, investigators are reaching out to more than 100 of the most frequent pawners in the state.
“They have been more than willing to talk with us,” said Brendan Call of the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
As they interview people who are regularly selling items, investigators are uncovering an extensive web of criminal activity.
“The ones we are looking for, they are involved with what we believe is a significant criminal enterprise and part of a major crime organization,” Call said.
The interviews are yielding bits of information about the intent of pawn shop employees.
“They’re telling us what they have been doing, verifying the property is stolen, and letting us know what the knowledge of that stolen property is with the pawn shops they’ve been visiting,” Call said.
The information will help investigators work with prosecutors to build a case against pawn shop employees who are breaking the law.
“They know, and there are rules about buying stolen property, and it’s becoming clear, they are knowingly buying stolen property,” Call said.
No arrests of any pawn shop owners or employees have been made, but the information collected in phase 2 will be added to the evidence from June’s raid.
Law enforcement hopes this operation will make a dent in the issue of retail theft in Utah, while also creating a level playing field for pawn shops that follow the rules.
“The ones that are doing it wrong are the bad fish so to speak. They are making it hard for the legitimate businesses to survive,” Call said.