Some good and not so good news on my stolen pocket watches....

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by kevinstang, Feb 24, 2016.

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  1. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    Not sure if appropriate to post here, I will leave names out for now, but on Jan 9th I was burglarized of this year and lost a good number of pocket watches here in upstate NY. I received info from the local police department today that 50+ of my watches were located in Belleview, Washington at a well known watch repair shop who purchased them two days or so after they were stolen from the girlfriend of the suspect the police have in hand. The shop or owner says on their site they are a member of the NAWCC. Now the police say the only way to get my watches back from them (the shop) is to compensate them for their loss or fly out and give a deposition- neither of which I can afford to do?- I'm thinking their loss? I am the original victim here and sounds like I'm only getting victimized twice. The shop paid less than $50 a watch - many were high end and in gold filled cases. Is there any recourse through the NAWCC? - ethics/morals? business practices? Sorry if I posted this in wrong spot or its against the rules here, I am just getting frustrated. I am awaiting shop owners response via email to the situation.
     
  2. mldenison

    mldenison Registered User
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    It seems strange that the police in WA cannot confiscate and return your watches since they were stolen. I believe that's what pawn shops are required to do.
     
  3. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User
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    I suppose what the police want is proof that you are/were the owner of those watches and that is why they are asking for a deposition. I have never heard of the buyer of stolen merchandise having to be compensated for his loss.

    Just a thought: The buyer of your watches appears to have not been too interested in where these came from, especially with what he paid for them, be he a member or not.

    A buyer of any type of collectible should be able to ascertain the legitimacy of the seller by just asking a question or two. When I had my store in AZ and was buying jewelry, watches, gold, silver, etc., and I would get a suspicious seller in the store I could immediately find out if they knew anything about what they were trying to sell by asking a few questions. Flaky answers were shown the door post haste, just to CYA.

    You probably could get your local lawyer to make a contact out there and to have their local lawyer handle the paperwork proof for them.

    I am very sorry for your loss and for the fact that you have now been asked to become a victim for the second time, but that's the society we live in today.

    Please keep us posted on your problem......and best of luck.
     
  4. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    I am working on getting the list of the serial numbers today, sadly I didn't have all of them. I did have a couple of photos as well. Still waiting to hear from shop owner. The police out there did send pictures and info on watches to my local police but I am not sure if the shop owner has them or the police.
     
  5. Mark UK

    Mark UK Registered User

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    I would telephone contact the business owner and explain all, then politely request that he doesn't dispose of any. It may well have been a manager or co-worker that made the purchase and without the owners knowledge. If he is a reputable businessman then I would hope that he would return them to you once you/he have established thru photo's/serial numbers that you are the rightful owner and would take care of all his losses.

    Here in the UK we have a saying that possession is 9/10 of the law BUT once it is established that you are in receipt of stolen goods then you forfeit them and all monies that you paid. I hope that you get a quick and satisfactory resolve to this!
     
  6. Candew

    Candew Registered User

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    I would think you could do a deposition where you live and not have to fly out there to do it. That would be where I would start if in fact the shop owner does not co operate.

    This is one of the reasons I have cataloged my collection with all the information on each watch including pictures.

    Good luck to you, I hope it all works out to the best.
     
  7. MartyR

    MartyR Super Moderator
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    Kevin, if that is true and you can produce solid evidence that even one of the watches bought by the shop was stolen from you, you may well have the basis of an Ethics Complaint to the NAWCC Ethics Committee. The powers of the NAWCC are limited, but they may have influence on the owner, and that may help to persuade him to return your property.

    If you arebunclear as to the procedure to be followed in making an Ethics complaint, you are welcome to PM me to ask for help.
     
  8. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

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    Here in NY, pawn, jewelry and gold buying shops are required to report all incoming merchandise to the police and are not allowed to sell it for 30 days whil police check the records for stolen goods. This is what i was told by a local merchant who deals in coins, jewelry and other valuables.
    Hopefully that is the case in Wa.as well. At least you will have a chance to straighten this out before anything leaves his shop. I am sure that the shop owner will not be able to sell anything as long as there is an investigation pending on the watches. Best of luck recoverjng them.
     
  9. doug sinclair

    doug sinclair Registered User
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    There is only ONE legal owner of stolen goods! In this case, YOU! Buyers of second hand goods run the risk of having stolen goods re-possessed. It's a cost of doing business! If your loss was reported to police in your area, and you have proven to them a/ you were the owner, and b/ the loss was investigated, it's a surprise to me the police in Washington haven't simply seized the items pending investigation! Can the police in your area help you with a resolution? The shop operator in NO WAY has recourse in this matter!
     
  10. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    Thank you Marty, I haven't heard from owner myself personally, still waiting- east / west coast time difference, they are apparently a well known watch repair shop as well and buyer. According to Sheriffs detective he was co-operative and the police were involved out there, but he was insisting I prove they were mine or I had to pay. The police here caught the burglar- he had stolen coins and a handgun of mine as well. The person who sold the watches to the shop was the guys girlfriend- she did it two days after the burglary. She was caught after she cashed check from the shop.
     
  11. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

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    If the police have apprehended both suspects they will sieze the goods if they haven't already and return them to you but don't expect them any time soon. Sounds like they already know who the rightful owner is.
     
  12. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User
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    Go back and read the initial post.

    This buyer was not a jewelry store or a buyer of collectibles...........he was a watch repair person, and if I am correct would not fall under the rules of making out reports to the PD or SO.

    I just have a feeling that this buyer knew just what he was doing to obtain all of these for less than $50.00 each.

    That 'buying from the girlfriend' also sounds fishy to the extent that this buyer knew just what was going on when he made buy.

    All he had to do is ask the girlfriend a few questions, like: Are any key wind? How do you set the time on this watch? What size is this watch? And that would clue him to whether the seller knew about what she was selling or just passing off stolen goods.

    Do you get my points? If I am wrong about my gut feeling in this matter I'll eat crow and apologize here every day for a week.
     
  13. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    I will add the girlfriend apparently told the shop owner they were her grandfathers watches and she needed the money for her kids, the opening offer from the shop owner was 1500, she wanted $3000 and they settled on the $2000 for 56 watches. Somewhere along the way several watches disappeared from the box they were shipped in- so the store owner says he only now has like 52 of them left. All this was relayed to me by the local sheriffs detective. No word yet from shop owner, I might try calling him later tonight, so far he has not responded to emails.
     
  14. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User
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    Kevin:

    This is just my opinion based on similar situations that I have been in.

    I would not call the buyer. This now seems to be in the hands of law enforcement so let them do their job as best that they can. You'll get absolutely no satisfaction from the buyer.

    I'll state again that I believe that this buyer knew what he was doing, what he was buying, and from whom, and the situation concerning how she got those watches. From what I glean from this post is that the buyer may probably be an accessory to the transfer of stolen goods. I know, that's a very far out opinion, but let's see how this ends....and then I'll eat crow or I'll glow.

    Let the cops find the supposed grandfather.

    Where did she come up with a figure of $3000 for those watches but then settle for $2000?

    Somewhere along the way 4 watches vanished, if I read your post right......and I would bet you 100 dollars to a peanut that those were the best 4 watches in the lot.
     
  15. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    I'm looking forward to hearing about this one on an episode of America's Dumbest Criminals any day now :)

    Astonished to hear that the police have not already raided the buyer's premises and confiscated all the watches as evidence. (Over here the police can bust your door down to recover suspected stolen or fraudulently-purchased items irrespective of the circumstances in which you allegedly happened to receive them.)

    Slightly surprised that nobody has mentioned "insurance" yet.

    Totally confused as to what the "compensate them for their loss" bit is about... you don't owe them a penny. How bizarre. Let them launch proceedings against the "girlfriend" (or claim it on their insurance) if they want to try and get their money back.

    I'm sure Judge Judy would have sorted this all out in less time than it's taken me to type this post.
     
  16. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    #16 kevinstang, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
    Received a reply from shop owner, he was supposed to get 52 watches, but only 50 showed up. He says he "purchased them in good faith" from the seller. By my math thats for $38.50 per watch- many of these were 21 jewel or higher and a good majority in gold filled cases. He has confirmed the serial numbers of several watches match those on my list as do the descriptions! Will be in touch with my local sheriffs office in the morning and see how we proceed. I do not mind covering the return shipping and packaging fee but don't feel I owe him anything other than that at this point.
     
  17. pops

    pops Registered User
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    So funny topspin! you guys get to watch Judge Judy?
     
  18. Dick C

    Dick C Registered User

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    #18 Dick C, Feb 24, 2016
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    Is it not a Federal Offense to buy/sell stolen goods if the USPS is involved in the transaction and/or if the goods/funds are sent/received over State lines?

    If so, why can't the FBI recover the goods?

    Do you really buy the statement that a couple of the watches disappeared from the box? Sold perhaps? Don't give up on these two.....perhaps traceable to the seller if found?
     
  19. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    About 20 years ago I remember having it on one of the cable channels. I'm sure I could still watch it now if I had a good enough cable/satellite package... and a TV set... It got a bit boring after a while.
     
  20. Fitzclan

    Fitzclan Registered User

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    Kevin,
    I have to agree with Marty. Disconnect yourself from the buyer in Wa. He's a crook. You will be nothing but lied to. Let the cops do their thing. I am confident that your goods will be recovered in time although a couple of watches may have already slipped through the cracks. The only one who would know the real value of the missing watches is the buyer. I think the other two are just a couple of crack heads. Just my opinion. I also don't think you will be responsible for shipping them back although you never know these days. It is the law enforcements duty to recover the goods. Hopefully you have the serial nos. or descriptions of those particular ones. Good luck...
     
  21. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    They were shipped UPS- I had hoped USPS because I have heard they will get very active in investigations like this.Hopefully will get some good news today.
     
  22. PWfanatik

    PWfanatik Registered User
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    It is illegal to receive stolen goods, and once they are known to be stolen, the receiver should in most states be obliged to give them to the rightful owner.
    They then need to seek their relief from the persons who brought them the stolen goods.
    Just my 2 cents...
     
  23. Ted Collins

    Ted Collins Registered User
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    #1 You need to prove ownership & provide that information to law enforcement.
    #2 If you can do so, buyer has no legal right to receiving stolen goods. In fact, depending upon the circumstances, the buyer can be found to have committed a crime. One cannot knowingly purchase stolen property. We don't have sufficient facts in that regard.
    #3 Your local law enforcement, as well as Washington law enforcement, should assist you with recovering your property...eventually.
    #4 The watches (and other stolen items) are evidence in a criminal prosecution in two states. There most likely has been a federal crime committed, as well, although I suspect it will not be pursued. In any event, it could take quite a while before you receive them back. Policies can vary between police & prosecutor's officers concerning retention of evidence. Sometimes they will document the stolen goods with photos, etc, and return to the owner, but I suspect you will not get them back until prosecutions, or at least convictions, are completed.
    #5 It sounds like the wheels are turning in your favor, but probably very slowly.
    #6 The sentencing court should order the defendant(s) to make restitution of any loss you may suffer; however, I would not hold my breath on receiving payment, unless daddy bails them out.
    #7 Good luck!

    This situation should serve as a lesson to all of us to keep good records and secure our collectibles.
     
  24. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    #24 Squite, Feb 27, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
    I'm pretty sure I know who this guy is as I live about 15 minutes north of Bellevue, and watch guys are few and far between in these parts. I wouldn't call him a crook. Maybe an opportunist, making a shrewd deal with a girl hard up for money who seemingly didn't know what she had. Anyone here who has ever turned a profit on any watch they have ever sold would be held in the same regard in my eyes. He seems reputable, though I have never personally dealt with him.

    Possession of stolen property valued in under $5k is possession in the second degree in the state of WA, which is a Class C felony. I would think that would matter to a businessman that intends on staying in business.
    http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.56.160
     
  25. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    And what would it be if the value of the 50 (or 52 or 56) watches came to more than $5k? That works out at no more than $100 apiece which, er, how to say this, might be seriously undervaluing some collections.
     
  26. Ted Collins

    Ted Collins Registered User
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    Just so everyone is clear on this. Possessing stolen property is not a crime in and of itself. Nor does it give the possessor a legal right to keep the same, under civil law. Knowingly possessing or receiving stolen property is a crime, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt under the law in a criminal prosection. We do not have sufficient information to make any judgment of that.
     
  27. Squite

    Squite Registered User

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    If he has been contacted by the OP, and was able to verify the SNs, and the police have asked him where he got them, he probably has a good idea they might be stolen. Could he look the other way and hope nobody pursues it further? Of course. But if it were me, I wouldn't. Bellevue isn't some hick town in the middle of nowhere. It's got a sizable population & the police there are known to be hardasses.

    If over $5k in value, it becomes possesion in the first degree, a Class B felony which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison & a $20,000 fine.
     
  28. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    #28 kevinstang, Mar 4, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
    Its been a week since I last heard from local police on status of watches. I was able to provide serial numbers for only some of the watches and pretty good descriptions of some of the more "unique" watches in the collection. The dealer admits that they match-some of them. Tie this with the fact that the thiefs girlfriend contacted him two days after my burglary and he bought them the next day by sending a check out to her- I thought would be pretty solid evidence myself, but apparently not. The guy admits receiving them from her and has been co-operating with police I guess, but at last word he still had my watches- although the local police told him not to sell them etc..Hoping for some news next week. He paid $2,000 for the watch lot- I figure retail would be closer to $8,000, there were alot of 21 jewel railroad watches and even a couple 23jewel models- all American brands.
     
  29. hc3

    hc3 Registered User

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    He sent her a check? I'm surprised he got anything at all from the thieves! They may well have "sold" these watches to several people.

    An honest man would say "I'm sorry, I had no idea they were stolen. I'll send them right back to you."
     
  30. TwoBoyMom

    TwoBoyMom New Member

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    Hi, Kevin!
    I realize this is now a "historical" thread, but I was wondering what ever happened with your watches?
    I live just a few minutes from Bellevue (on Mercer Island) and if there is anything that you think I might be able to help you with regarding the situation, please let me know.
    Hopefully, all is well and your watches are back at home with you (ALL of them!). But, if not, let me know. I can be very "persuasive" when I want to be and irritatingly persistent on top of that! 😇
    I just get a bit "personally offended" when people are being taken advantage of or outright ripped off and LOVE being part of a resolution solution! 😁
    Anyway, hope this finds you well and with good news!
    Kind regards,
    Melanie
     
  31. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Super Moderator
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    tough situation. I had a similar situation. I buy from dealers across the globe. Cupla years ago, a store in Chicago bought a couple pocket watches, out the forms correctly (he said) and sold them to me. I of course, did not fill out any papers as it was a dealer to dealer transaction. I gave them to my wife who does her ebay division thing. Someone saw them and said they were stolen from UPS. We co-operated fully and did not wrong. However the owner got on these very boards and accused us of wrong doing. Of course, we DID insist on proof of ownership. Anyone can call us up (and HAVE...) and try to scam us out of things saying they were stolen from them.(I could tell you horror stories). Anyway, the nawcc member sent a colleague of his to my store and he was VERY nasty and accusatory... and I said...hey... you are lucky you are dealing with someone who is straight up and will help you get your watches back.. please do not be snotty. He smiled and thanked me and left. And then BLASTED me on social media, yelp, google etc. with one star rating going on and on about stolen watches! I did nothing wrong! Still smarts to see those reviews.
     
  32. kevinstang

    kevinstang Registered User
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    Hello Melanie, thanks for the offer. The shop owner was reluctant to turn over watches from what my local sheriffs office said, but eventually authorities out there picked them up and shipped them back east last year, sometime in August or September of 2016. I got a chance to view them last September and identify them and access the damage briefly. The subject was finally charged with about 4 or 5 felonies later, but as of yet I've not heard of a conviction or plea agreement. The watches therefore are still being held as evidence and I have not seen them since. Which reminds me I should call the DA's office and see how things are going- they are understaffed and way behind in cases (many are getting tossed out as they in some instances are 3 years behind). The present DA is stepping down at the end of the year so things there not likely to get much better. The whole ordeal is rather depressing and my interest in watches has waned a lot in the last year and a half. I recorded all serial numbers of the watches that remained and now have them securely locked away, so its hard to get much enjoyment out of them anymore- used to like to display some of them around the house etc..
     
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