The Boston Police Department announced that, last month, they had opened up a fake pawn shop booth in Boston's Downtown Crossing in an effort to catch persons trying to unload stolen merchandise.
They called it "M.I.B.", or Men in Blue, and they were looking to catch people selling stolen goods. The 'operation', according to the Boston Police Department, netted 24 arrests and resulted in several Theft Crimes Charges being issued, particularly for Receiving Stolen Property. Not all of the items pawned were stolen, but they do expect to issue an additional 40 warrants for Theft Crimes Charges.
According to the Boston Police Department, the sting operation was set up in response to an increase in home and cellphone robberies, for which numbers for those crimes are up this year. Within the pawnshop, the undercover Boston Police Officers used hidden cameras to identify those persons who pawned items and who did not have identification.
Although many citizens and businesses in the area hailed the Boston Police Department's sting operation, the operation could also hurt existing businesses. In tough economic times such as these, and where many businesses are hurting as a result, the sting operation could also damage the credibility of many existing pawn shops, and deter future customer. In other words, persons that might have intended to legally pawn items may now think twice in fear of mistakenly getting caught up in a police sting operation.
The reality is, most people that take advantage of unloading jewelry or other items at pawn shops don't have receipts for those items. Fear of then being questioned as to the authenticity of ownership of those items could deter pawn shop business.
The Theft Crime of Receiving Stolen Property:
In Massachusetts, the crime of Receiving Stolen Property is punishable by imprisonment to the House of Corrections for up to 2.5 years or in state prison for up to 5 years.
In order to be convicted of the crime of Receiving Stolen Property, the prosecutor must prove:
- That the property in question was stolen;
- That the defendant knew that the property had been stolen; and
- That the defendant knowingly had the stolen property in his possession, bought the stolen property, or aided in concealing the stolen property.
Although the prosecutor is not required to prove who, specifically, stole the property, he is required to prove that the defendant actually knew that the property was stolen, or at least believed it was stolen.
Therefore, despite the number of arrests and potential warrant for Receiving Stolen Property under the Boston Police pawn shop sting operation, this lawyer believes that prosecutor will have a very difficult time in proving that these people had actual knowledge of the stolen property.
Good luck with this BPD... sure, they'll have press conference on one or two items, and hope that most of these defendants will plead out their cases...but I'll be waiting for the press conference on how many convictions are obtained of the cases that go trial...
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