Police, pawnshops work together to catch criminals selling stolen items

SAN ANTONIO – Thieves looking for a quick buck will attempt to flip stolen items for cash, which sometimes leads them to pawnshops. These stores are now working with police to catch criminals trying to sell stolen items.

San Antonio police arrested 45-year-old Virginia Vela Torres on Wednesday after tracking stolen jewelry to a pawn shop. Officers say she stole jewelry from children at a day care center where she worked.

Teamwork between the pawnshop and police made the arrest and return of the stolen belongings possible.

“It is a loss on our end, so it certainly does not benefit the pawnbroker or the industry to deal in stolen merchandise,” said Shirley Gonzales, a former councilwoman and owner of Bill’s Pawn & Jewelry.

The stolen jewelry was not recovered at Gonzales’s business, but she explained how pawnshops in San Antonio and law enforcement work together.

Gonzales said business owners have regular meetings with SAPD to discuss things to look out for and new theft trends. She said how these businesses document items sold to their stores is most important because the seller must file a copy of their ID.

“Every pawnshop in San Antonio voluntarily downloads all the transactions for the day. They go straight to a third-party system that then connects to the police department,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said if an officer sees an item that’s on their theft report, they’re able to track down the seller. They also get the stolen belongings back in the right hands most of the time.

Gonzales said the best chances of getting items back is if they are engraved, have identifiable markings, and if you have pictures of them. Write down serial and model numbers and keep them somewhere safe if your items have them.

If your electronic is stolen, police can easily find out if an item is yours if the serial number matches.


About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.