Bargain buys could be funding criminal gangs

The profits from selling goods stolen in house break-ins are often used to fund more significant criminal activity.
The profits from selling goods stolen in house break-ins are often used to fund more significant criminal activity.

A campaign has been launched to deter the public from buying potentially stolen goods, which fund serious and organised crime.

During the festive season, many Christmas shoppers are on the hunt for a bargain.

But Police Scotland is warning shoppers not to spend their money on any items that have been stolen from a home or business.

Over the past few years, tackling housebreaking has been a policing priority and many areas have seen a reduction in these crimes.

But where items are stolen as a result of housebreaking, theft or robbery, and not recovered, many end up being sold on to the public, often at a cheaper price than you would find in a high street store, or online.

Selling on, or taking possession of stolen goods is known as resetting and police want to highlight that buying stolen property is unacceptable as it helps fund further criminal activity.

In the coming weeks, officers will be liaising with second-hand retailers to identify any items that may have been obtained as a result of an acquisitive crime.

Visits will also be made to markets and stalls to ensure all goods being sold have been lawfully procured for sale.

Detective Supt Catriona Henderson, who is leading this campaign, said: “It is a criminal offence to knowingly take possession of any item that has been obtained by criminal means.

“Resetting stolen property is not a victimless crime. Often the things being stolen are from another member of the public’s home and were intended as a gift for a loved one or friend.

“Alternatively, they are taken from commercial businesses who then make claims on their insurance and have to raise their own prices as a result.

“What our investigations into resetting often find is that those involved are part of a wider chain of organised crime and it is the profit made from selling stolen goods that then funds more significant criminal activity.”

Stephanie Karte, from Retailers Against Crime, added: “Shoplifting and thefts from shops can have serious consequences for retailers in terms of profitability and continued viability.

“We’d encourage anyone looking for bargains online to be wary of where products seem too good to be true.”

Trading Standards is also urging shoppers to make sure they are buying genuine goods from genuine sellers, as all too often when expensive items are sold cheaply they are fake or stolen.

This illicit trade is believed to cost the economy over £9 billion in lost revenue, almost 60,000 jobs and £4 billion in unpaid tax.