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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Antiques Are Green Unless They Are Black – Stolen

On-line auction and on-line shopping websites have been around for a long time but up until now, the long arm of the law has not yet reached these on-line stores. The absence of laws has fostered an illegal industry that has proved to be very profitable for thieves and charlatans alike, apart from being less perilous than the drug trade, human trafficking and other illegal businesses.
Could on-line sellers dealing in stolen goods eventually find themselves facing legislation?

In America the following acts were proposed:
  • E-fencing Enforcement Act 2009
  • Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008
  • Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008

    These bills were intended to combat Organized Retail Crime, and there are numerous on-line sellers that are comfortably selling huge volumes of stolen goods. These goods have been stolen directly from retailers and sold through popular websites like eBay.
However, these bills were never passed into law.

eBay encourage police, prosecutors and U.S. enforcement agencies to contact them for help on investigations, saying that working with law enforcement is a top priority for the huge retail and auction site, but eBay also said they opposed the above bills in the U.S. Congress that attempted to crack down on the on-line sale of stolen goods. The three bills, would either force on-line marketplaces such as eBay to give up private information about their sellers to retailers alleging the sale of stolen goods, or allow retailers to sue on-line marketplaces for failing to adequately investigate stolen goods complaints. eBay would support legislation that increases criminal penalties for selling stolen goods, but said the three bills target the wrong people. 
This sounds rather like trying to lock the stable door after the horse has run away!!!!!!!!!!

Organized retail crime is a rapidly growing problem, especially in challenging economic times that increases the market for stolen merchandise. Retailers already struggling to survive are seeing their inventory disappear in increasing amounts, and the goods end up at flea markets or on the Internet at prices that put temptation into the path of cash-strapped consumers trying to stretch their money. Losses from these crimes ultimately drive up the price of legitimate merchandise at a time when consumers can least afford it, and do serious damage to already weakened economies.

But high street retail goods are not alone in this unsavoury practice, even the humble antique does not escape these unscrupulous people.

One of the most worrying things for antique dealers is being caught out by inadvertently handling stolen goods. This is always a hot topic of discussion within the antiques trade and any initiative that might help has to be welcomed. So how can you be sure that the item you are selling or bought was not stolen?

At Rarity4u we have voluntarily operated a policy of due diligence for many years, and make every effort to check our items before offering them for sale. Also our website has links for customers and potential customers to use to check our items against various databases of stolen items.

One such site is that lists details and pictures of stolen items along with information on recovered items. The site, which is simple to use and easy to navigate, can be accessed by anyone with access to the world wide web, and it is monitored and updated by UK police forces. 

With so much emphasis being placed on due diligence these days, nobody in the trade can afford to ignore the risks of inadvertently handling stolen property. It does not take long to check items against these sites, and it could prevent a lot of trouble.

If a small family run business like Rarity4u can operate a due diligence policy, what makes it so difficult for eBay and others to do the same?

In this life there are leaders and followers, and I guess we just have to accept that little tiny Rarity4u are leading very reluctant global giants like eBay and others by the nose.

Why should this be the case, could it be money, profits and vested interest?
What about you what do you believe?
What should be done to limit or halt these unsavoury practices? 
Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts.

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