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Amid a spike in San Francisco, here’s how to tell if you’re buying stolen goods online


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — As San Francisco faces a spike in retail theft, ABC7 News’ I-Team is investigating how criminal networks operate on our streets and online.

According to the police, these people often plan months in advance how to steal, where to resell and at what price. So how do you know if what you’re buying online hasn’t been stolen?

VIDEO: SF man arrested after police seize nearly $200,000 in stolen property from apartment

“These operations cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and run into the millions when you put them all together,” said San Francisco Police Sgt. Adam Lobsinger.

On Wednesday, the SFPD arrested a man who was able to sell, store and resell $200,000 worth of property stolen from his apartment. It turns out that cases like this happen in the Bay Area.

“This single arrest on Wednesday could open files on several other open investigations and lead to several more arrests,” Lobsinger said.

According to investigators, the mid-market area of ​​San Francisco is seeing a noticeable increase in these closing trades.

Retail Organized Crime Rings – How Do They Really Work?

Police say they often start small and involve the use of middlemen or a “fence”, who steal and try to offload the stolen items as quickly as possible.

“They end up with something like this, where we arrest a person or (people) and they’re selling hundreds of thousands of goods online nationwide and we know they got these stolen items from multiple people” , said Lobsinger.

According to an analysis by the Senate Judiciary Committee, more than $500 billion worth of stolen and counterfeit goods are sold online worldwide each year. In some cases, online retailers inform investigators. For example, SFPD Lt. Scott Ryan said eBay contacted them about Wednesday’s fencing suspect.

“We followed, there was no crazy undercover process, but we followed and saw what they saw and took steps to work with everyone to identify who he was,” said Lieutenant Scott.

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So what is made to crack?

State Sen. Nancy Skinner (CA-9th District) introduced a bill that places more accountability on online retailers while tightening requirements for sellers.

“So the market needs to get information like their trading license, receipt of goods, that sort of thing to prove that they are the rightful owners of those goods and that they haven’t been stolen,” he said. Skinner said.

Skinner’s legislation, SB 301 has already passed the Senate and is moving to the Assembly.

Investigators say these organized crime networks operate on everyday sites we all use like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

RELATED: Man charged with leading international ring of car burglars out of SF boba store, says DA

So what should you pay attention to?

“Is it a seller that’s brand new, it’s never sold anything before, especially if it’s an expensive handbag, an expensive watch, something like that,” Michael said. Finney from ABC7’s 7 On Your Side. “Or if it’s loose, if it’s brand new, loose, a whole case of aspirin, you have to wonder, where did they find a case of aspirin?”

Finney added that other red flags are exceptionally low prices.

“If the articles are too good to be true, that should be a concern,” Finney added. “If they have too many items that you should be concerned about. If they have three Rolexes and you’re wondering what’s going on? Ask yourself, is this a normal situation?”

If you buy a stolen item, you could also be subject to legal action. Although this is unlikely, especially if you unknowingly purchased the stolen item, keep in mind that legally it is not yours.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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