Web sales of stolen items being tracked

Stolen goods from Dunedin are being sold through international websites, which victims and police are using to track down culprits.

Senior Sergeant Mel Aitken said Dunedin buy, swap and sell pages on the social networking website Facebook were among those being used by criminals.

Police were investigating accordingly.

"It appears to be the latest trend in trading or selling stolen gear quickly and cheaply," she said.

But while the internet was a quick and easy tool for offenders, it also gave victims an opportunity to find missing property.

Snr Sgt Aitken said victims of theft were often the first people to inform police about locating stolen items online.

"They are quick to get on board and search for gear that they may have had taken from them.

"Tracking down the seller of stolen property in recent days has led to at least two positive recoveries of property," she said.

Facebook posed more problems for police than other internet trading sites used in New Zealand, Snr Sgt Aitken said.

"It is a definite concern to police as Facebook has no parameters or controls on illegal activity, as opposed to Trade Me which is quick to shut down dealers in stolen gear," she said.

About 6000 people were listed as members of Facebook page "Dunedin buy sell and trade", labelled as a closed group on the website.

Those with Facebook profiles could request to join the group free of charge.

A further 2700 people were members of three similar Facebook pages.

Snr Sgt Aitken said the websites were predominantly used by people with a legitimate interest in selling or buying goods, but it was a case of buyer beware.

"If the price of something looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If the seller is after a quick sale, then the item is likely to be hot [stolen]," she said.

Those found to have bought stolen items risked being charged with receiving stolen property.




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