The Watch That Slipped Through the Cracks

There are plenty of legitimate online sellers who are offering luxury watches for sale – and this includes pawn shops. Laws vary by state, but in many states, pawnshops are legally required to take down information about the person who has brought in items for sale, including drivers’ license numbers, home addresses, and other information. In addition, serial numbers are usually recorded.  For example, in North Carolina, pawn shops are required to submit a list of all merchandise received – and their serial numbers – to the local police. (Read this howstuffworks.com article for more information on what pawn shops are required to do in that state.)

However, sometimes in spite of the best efforts of both pawnshops and the police – and even businesses or individuals that sell items -  an stolen item can slip through the cracks. Consider the case of a stolen Rolex, purchased on eBay and written about in this recent Plain Dealer article by Sheryl Harris. When the watch was sent to Rolex for repairs, Rolex informed the new owner that the watch was listed in its database of lost and stolen watches – and Rolex was holding on to the watch until the matter was settled. The pawn shop owner wrote in an email that “. . .it appears that law enforcement failed to cross reference the item against a list of stolen watches.” After that, the watch probably changed hands several times, and the seller – another pawn shop – was unaware that the watch had been stolen.

Situations like this could be entirely avoided by ordering a WatchFacts Theft Check report. Sellers – including pawn shops, independent businesses, and others – can order them to protect their reputation, and buyers can request a watch’s serial number prior to purchasing an item and order a report themselves. The cost of a theft check report is low. . .but the cost of purchasing a stolen watch can be extremely high for at least one of the parties involved. In the article referenced above, the pawn shop decided to issue a refund – even though it had no idea the item was stolen.