Advice on recovering stolen property for sale on eBay?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Kelly Bell

“Dear PoPville,

I had about $1,500 worth of guitar pedals stolen out of my trunk in Shaw a few weeks ago, filed a police report, reported to insurance, and figured that was that. However, one of the pedals was a custom job (one of its kind in the world) so I set up an eBay search for the text on the pedal. Sure enough, I got a hit a couple of days ago, and it appears that somebody in Edgewater, MD is selling off my gear. That unique pedal is gone now, but another one that is obviously identifiable as mine (broken knob and scratch patterns match my photos). Based on the seller’s other listings (large number of random tools and electronics), dollars to donuts says he’s in the business of selling stolen items. I called the detective who was assigned to my case and he’s telling me there’s nothing they can do because the seller is in Maryland. Any advice on how to pursue this further? I’d love to get my stuff back, and I’d think MPD would take an interest in a felony-level theft that’s likely tied to many more cases.”

27 Comment

  • What kind of shipping are they offering? You might look at making a complaint to the Postal Inspectors.

    • I’d do this definitely. They’ve done stings for drugs and such, and selling stolen goods is certainly fraudulent use of the mail.

    • This exactly. I was scammed from an Ebay sale (took my money, never shipped the goods), and they eventually arrested the guy. I got alerts all through college about his parole, etc. Crazy.

  • houseintherear

    I’d say file a police report in Md.

  • eBay has a whole message center for this – I think it may be a matter of filing a police report in MD and then having that detective contact eBay? Or maybe the DC detective can submit your case details to this dashboard?

    • I called back and the detective agreed to submit the stolen item report to eBay (only law enforcement can report an item stolen). So maybe something will come of that. County police in Maryland said they couldn’t do anything since the crime occurred in DC, but I’m going to try them again. After all, the theft took place in DC, but being in possession of stolen property is the crime currently going on in MD.

  • DC1

    How convenient that they can’t do anything (which is just a simple phone call). I guess you have to do their job and contact the local police department there and produce the DC report so they can investigate locally and hopefully get your stuff back

  • So transporting drugs across state lines is a federal offense, but taking stolen items across state lines is perfectly fine. What a country.

    • Maybe it’s a matter of proving intentions. Everyone knows cocaine is illegal, so you cannot argue your way out of it. You might legitimately get something from a friend that’s stolen. I don’t think that happened in this case, but it makes sense why one is more easily pursued.

  • Call the MD police they appear to care! Seriously.

  • maybe buy the items back and then file an ebay claim? you’ll get a refund.

    Or how about buying on ebay, then saying you want to do a local pickup? i bet the cops will be in if you can get him to meet you.

    • If selling stolen goods is his regular gig (“large number of random tools and electronics”) I doubt that the seller would agree to an in-person meeting.
      Does eBay even care about the large-scale fencing operations on their site? Or do they have a policy of passing the buck on to local law enforcement, I wonder?

  • Nice work OP! I say we get ’em. Round up some people and get those pedals! But seriously, thsi has a whole “Bored to Death” feel to it. You should be a part time PI.

  • You can see who won auctions, I thought, so it may be worthwhile to contact the buyer and let them know or let ebay know x buyer bought your stolen good.

  • can we please have a follow up on this story?

  • Maybe try contacting one of the local news stations who take on investigations. 7 On Your Side or News4 I-Team for example.
    Good luck and hope you have a happy ending.

  • So, let me get this straight. All I have to do to get away with theft is to quickly move the goods across state lines? If that were so, a lot more people would take up thieving careers, as it is very likely they’d never get caught.

    Hello, that certainly isn’t true, and you are getting a run around. State law enforcement officers never work together to solve cases that cross state lines? Federal law enforcement never comes into play?

    Someone is not doing their job here.

  • Further investigation indicates that the seller is almost certainly a pawn shop. I think this increases the odds of an at least partial recovery of the ill-gotten goods. Working with MD police now – will update when I have news!

    • That’s good for you. They have to return stolen stuff by law. Good luck!

    • let us know what happens! and if you receive a response from DC police as to why they initially said there was nothing they could do, I would love to know that too – that was very disturbing to hear.

  • I cry “bull hockey” that MPD can’t do anything because the items are being sold in MD. There is such a thing as cooperative investigations, and just think of the result if all criminals needed to do to evade arrest and prosecution was to cross a state line.

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