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German buys back stolen camera on eBay
Old 12-30-2005   #1
bmattock
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German buys back stolen camera on eBay

I have wondered at a couple of things I've seen online - suspecting that the seller was not just a "Got this at an estate sale" kinda guy. I guess it happens:


Reuters News Story Link - Click Here
Quote:
German buys back stolen camera on eBay
Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:57 PM GMT

BERLIN (Reuters) - A 44-year-old German businessman whose digital camera was stolen at a restaurant was relieved when he managed to buy exactly the same model on the eBay Internet auction site to match his accessories.

But he became suspicious when it emerged the seller came from his home town. It proved to be the same camera.

Police said on Thursday they were questioning the 34-year-old vendor who, a statement said, "claims he got the camera at a flea market, but was also offering other cameras on the Internet".
Of course, I've also seen cameras at the flea market that I was reasonably sure were stolen - nobody keeps Nikon and Canon SLRs in a pillowcase and carries them around like a loaf of bread if they know what they have.

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Bill Mattocks
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Old 12-30-2005   #2
dcsang
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I've always said that Ebay is the biggest place to fence stolen goods.

I'm always mildly surprised at sellers who are definitely not "dealers" per se (i.e. not huge stores like Henry's or Adorama or KB Camera or such) who just happen to have brand new in box cameras/items. And they don't just have one.. they've got a number of these things and they sell like hotcakes no questions asked.

I had a Pentax ME Super stolen from me a couple years ago and I can almost guarantee it would have showed up on Ebay if it didn't go to a local pawn shop.

Dave
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Old 12-30-2005   #3
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Hay Dave just bought a Pentax ME super with a 50mm 1.4 at the barrie goodwill. Could be yours I wonder? I have sold new in the box items on ebay, I didn't steal them either. I buy stuff at a local auction that handels lost (mispalced misshipped) and damaged items for couirer companies. A lot of ebay items show up there with all the paper work often even the listing and sale info for buyer and costs.
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Last edited by flashover : 12-30-2005 at 09:17.
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Old 12-30-2005   #4
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I've read other identical stories recently.. eb*y is the first place to check if you've had something stolen
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Old 12-30-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flashover
Hay Dave just bought a Pentax ME super with a 50mm 1.4 at the barrie goodwill. Could be yours I wonder? I have sold new in the box items on ebay, I didn't steal them either. I buy stuff at a local auction that handels lost (mispalced misshipped) and damaged items for couirer companies. A lot of ebay items show up there with all the paper work often even the listing and sale info for buyer and costs.
Nah.. mine was stolen well over a year and a half ago. And it didn't have a 50mm 1.4

I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate folks on there selling their wares but I would think, if I was a theif, and I wanted to fence something asap to someone with no questions asked, and I could ship it anywhere in the world, I'd do it on Ebay.

Dave
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Old 12-30-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcsang

I'm always mildly surprised at sellers who are definitely not "dealers" per se (i.e. not huge stores like Henry's or Adorama or KB Camera or such) who just happen to have brand new in box cameras/items. And they don't just have one.. they've got a number of these things and they sell like hotcakes no questions asked.

Dave
Dave,

Undoubtedly eBay can be a venue for fencing stolen goods. Physical auctions have served that purpose for centuries. In fact, under early British law back in the days of yore, items of questionable provenance that were sold at an auction held before daybreak - became "legitimate" once again!

As to dealers who are not big time retailers - that is the whole power of e-tailing. It is now possible for small business people to obtain goods by the "lot" and profitably move them via eBay and other internet venues because they have much lower overhead costs. Many of the small-time eBay camera "dealers" you see are legally obtaining gray market products. They do not have to be "licensed" dealers to obtain this inventory.

As a buyer you run the risk becasue you get no manufacturer's warranty - but third-party warranties are usually offered.

And let's not forget it's not just these "little guys" who play the gray market game. B&H, for example, regularly offers both a lower "Import" price and a higher "USA" one for most camera gear it sells.

I agree that eBay can be a venue for selling "hot" goods - but given the overall volume of goods moved on the site - I would hazard to say the "fenced" stuff is a very small percentage of the total.

Happy New Year,
George
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Old 12-30-2005   #7
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i regularly checked e-bay for months after my stuff was stolen, a year ago.
Nothing popped up, alas.
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Old 12-30-2005   #8
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Keep in mind that Ebay can become a high profile venue for selling your quietly stolen goods.
Of course things do indeed end up on the 'bay, even friends of mine have found their things there.
But most thieves are much more interested in getting rid of what they have as quickly and quietly as possible. Pawn shops are willing participants in this game, and when there are restrictions placed on them, they often do not follow them. Pawn shops are often thieves by proxy, to be frank.
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Old 12-30-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobofish
Keep in mind that Ebay can become a high profile venue for selling your quietly stolen goods.
Of course things do indeed end up on the 'bay, even friends of mine have found their things there.
But most thieves are much more interested in getting rid of what they have as quickly and quietly as possible. Pawn shops are willing participants in this game, and when there are restrictions placed on them, they often do not follow them. Pawn shops are often thieves by proxy, to be frank.
Yes they can be. And they, rather than the original theives, may often be the ones who then "fence" the stuff on eBay.
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A lighter note.
Old 12-30-2005   #10
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A lighter note.

My friend and I also collect vinyl (records). We often find better copies than what we have and trade our records in at the local used record store. Recently he traded in an album at Reckless records. A couple of weeks later, he saw another copy of this album on the bay. He bid and won it. Lo and behold when it arrived at his house, he recognized it as the same exact album he had traded a couple of weeks earlier. It was from a local seller and my friend got a big kick out of the situation. :>)

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Old 12-30-2005   #11
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When I was trading ham gear on eBay this kind of "boomerang" sales cycle sometimes occurred. Certain pieces of gear developed a "reputation" as they "rotated" from seller to buyer to seller to buyer .....
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Old 12-30-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFriday
I've read other identical stories recently.. eb*y is the first place to check if you've had something stolen
EBay is a den of inequity that reeks of wee.
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Old 12-30-2005   #13
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Hmmmm... I had an interesting message from an ebay seller quite a while ago that got me thinking after a sale was completed... He/she sheepishly wanted to know why I was interested in this particular camera (Rollei) after I recieved word that it had been shipped. The listing was a little bit of a gamble now that I think about it. Not much info other than it worked perfectly, and it ended at some unmentionable hour of the morning (which I seem to be seeing more and more of lately!). I was the only bidder and picked it up at the low starting price... Turned out to be an amazing deal, but now I am dubious as to whether the seller was honestly just asking why anyone would want a somewhat expensive film camera in this day & age... Unfortunately I replied to the seller and spilled the virtues, value, and reputation of the camera to photographers... To my knowlegdge the seller isn't listing lots of higher-end photo gear, so hopefully I didn't add to the problem. I guess I was a little taken aback at #1 getting some communication from a seller at all, but also at their vague line of questioning.
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Old 12-30-2005   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobofish
Pawn shops are willing participants in this game, and when there are restrictions placed on them, they often do not follow them. Pawn shops are often thieves by proxy, to be frank.
that's actually an outdated stereotype for the most part these days. most cities have "pawn shop task forces" or something similar w/ their police departments, and the guys at the pawn shops are very cooperative often leading to some of the biggest busts. my dad is a burglary detective, and corrected that view i held as well (that pawn shops are theives). they make more money from people actually in there pawning their stuff legitimately, and don't need the hassle of receiving stolen goods. obviously some stolen stuff gets through unbeknownst to the pawn shops, but they are often the ones making calls to the police when dubious merchandise comes in...even helping set up the bust w/ the police. anyhoo...just thought i'd chime in.
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Old 12-30-2005   #15
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oh yeah...forgot to mention...this shift IS, in turn, forcing thieves to fence the goods on ebay.
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Old 12-31-2005   #16
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It reminds me of what they say about bicycles in Oxford and Cambridge. You can't claim to belong to either place until you've had your bike stolen there. And rumour has it that bikes are repainted and then sold in the other place. So if you wait for long enough, you'll see your own bike back, albeit with two coats of paint on it.

Having said that, I'm still waiting. And walking

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Old 12-31-2005   #17
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If EBay wanted to cut back on this, they would require that Serial Numbers be listed on items up for auction. Many items, like toys etc, have no serial number. But a Leica M3 listed as "No Serial Number" would be a dead giveaway that it was stolen.
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Old 12-31-2005   #18
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Ebay is probably highly populated with such sellers. Careful always with your cameras, it's easier now to make a quick buck on something like a camera than it once was (at least, easier to make $$$$ rather than $$ at a pawn shop or a stolen goods dealer).
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