There is always a chance, however minuscule, that an item you purchase from Craigslist, a garage sale, pawn shop or flea market could turn out to be stolen. That is a small but real risk you take every time you purchase an item from another person.
The good news is that you are afforded some protections if you did not have any reason to believe those items were stolen when you purchased them. But as soon as you find out the item was stolen, or begin to suspect the item may have been stolen, you must take immediate action to avoid becoming a party to the crime yourself.
Here’s a quick overview of the steps you should take as a member of the public who may have accidentally purchased a stolen item. For more information, contact a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX to discuss the particulars of your situation:
- Write down everything you can remember about the transaction: You should do this as soon as you are informed or begin to suspect the item was stolen. Write down everything you remember from when you purchased the item. Not only will this help jog your memory and potentially assist in a police investigation, but it will also help show police that there’s no reason you could have suspected the goods were stolen at the time. Be sure to hold on to a receipt, as it looks suspicious if you purchase an expensive item but don’t keep a receipt.
- Contact the police: Get in touch with the police as soon as your suspicions surface. The police will attempt to find the original owner and return the item. Get a copy of the police report if possible, so you can show this to the person who sold you the item.
- Get a refund: Bring the police report to the person or company that sold you the stolen goods, after those items have been returned to their rightful owner. They should be willing to refund you the money.
- Sue: However, if you have difficulty getting a refund and the seller refuses to cooperate, you can sue for restitution, in which event you can bring your case to a small claims court. This simplified court process allows you to present evidence on your behalf. If you have followed the above steps, it should be a fairly straightforward process to demonstrate that the seller sold you stolen merchandise and that you took the appropriate steps to return that property to the rightful owner.
- Speak to an attorney: In some cases, it may make sense for you to retain the services of an attorney, even if you aren’t being criminally charged in the case. This is especially true if you’re having any problems with the person or company that sold you the stolen item.
For more information about how you should proceed if you believe you may have accidentally purchased a stolen item, contact an experienced criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX today with any questions. The team at The Law Office of Rob Biggers will be happy to assist you with your case!
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