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Pawn shop raided
Business was encouraging theft, buying stolen items

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The two men sat slumping on stools in the middle of the pawn shop with their hands cuffed behind their backs.

They watched as Clayton County Police detectives and undercover officers milled around the shop, and as a television crew from a local station walked through the tinted, glass door.

"Well, this is a big production," said the owner of Acme Pawn, Tuesday.

Above his head, an electronic reader board flashed the words: "Everything on Sale! Show Me the Money!!!" In the window, between the security bars and the glass, hung a sign advertising the 7443 Tara Boulevard shop as "THE HOME OF GREAT DEALS."

Police said, however, that the great deals and low prices offered included stolen items the two owners had purchased after being told the goods were recently shoplifted or burgled.

Over the past two months, an undercover officer sold Acme Pawn shop two PlayStations and two iPods, telling the two men he had stolen the electronics. Each time, Robert Baker and David Reichert only asked how much money he wanted for the stolen items, according to police.

"The owners of the pawn shop have been receiving stolen property," said Sgt. Rebecca Brown. "The officer walked in and said, 'Hey, I got some hot stuff. I got some good stuff.' Unfortunately, greed is a big motivator for a lot of people," the police officer added.

The pair didn't ask for the officer's identification, as is required, didn't thumb print him and didn't record the serial numbers, said Detective David Lovett.

The men were circumventing the paperwork which allows detectives to recover stolen items, makes it harder to sell stolen items, and sometimes, allows police to track and arrest thieves, Lovett said.

The crimes-against-property detectives began looking at the pawn shop about two months ago, when investigators employed by Target contacted them and gave them information about a suspected shoplifter's methods. "A young man," Brown said, "was stealing from Target and bringing the merchandise here and selling it."

Police believe Reichert and Baker have been encouraging the teen to steal. "And who knows how many others," Lovett said.

Clayton Police Chief Jeff Turner said the department will seek to have the pawn shop's business license revoked. "Clayton County is not a place to run an illegal business," he said. "We will arrest you and shut you down."

Detectives said many pawn shops pay for stolen merchandise without knowing the items are stolen. Sometimes, a check of the serial number against a database maintained by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation works to alert police to the items. Other times, Lovett said, the owners don't know the serial numbers and there's no way to connect the item being sold to the item missing from someone's home.

Brown said the department encourages people to record the make, model and serial number of every high-priced item in their homes. That's the first question an officer will ask, she said, when responding to a reported robbery. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't even know the model of the television they watch every day.

The two men at Acme Pawn face four charges of theft by receiving. Detectives were waiting for warrants, Tuesday, to search the store's inventory for other stolen items and items which were improperly recorded.

Lovett told the officers how to look for stolen items and turned to the owners, sitting on the two stools, and asked them if they had any questions.

"I try to -- I have tried in the past -- I try to write everything down," Baker said.

"Well, you bought stolen items from our officer," Lovett said.

"Who was he?" Baker said.

"Was that the guy who was in here earlier?" Reichert said.

"You'll see him," Lovett said. "I just need to know, do you have any questions?"

"No," Baker said, as he glared at the TV camera.