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How to Get Stolen Property Back

Updated March 21, 2017

Recovering stolen property can be a daunting task that requires the assistance of law enforcement. Conversely, law enforcement officers also need your assistance to track down and identify your property. There are several ways to work together with law enforcement to recover stolen items and protect yourself from further victimisation, such as recording serial numbers when purchasing electronics, photographing valuables like jewellery, visiting local pawn shops and searching online pawn shop databases. Some police departments even hold public viewings of seized items in an attempt to locate the rightful owners.

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  1. Contact your local police department immediately upon discovering the theft of your item or items. Ensure that you gather as many details as possible regarding your stolen item, such as the physical description, serial number and the estimated dollar value.

  2. Fill out a police report. Indicate all necessary details describing your stolen property and the circumstances surrounding the theft. The police will then enter the information into their database for future reference in case they locate items matching the description.

  3. Conduct an online search, or query the police about state and local pawn shops that might be selling your property. As legitimate pawn shop owners must log all pawned items into an official database with each transaction, the police may locate your stolen item in this venue. In such a case, the pawn shop owner must surrender your item to law enforcement when provided with proof that it was stolen. Police will notify you upon recovery of your item.

  4. Check with local law enforcement periodically concerning the status of their search. Offer any new details, leads or developments that might help them locate and recover your stolen property.

  5. Tip

    After your property is recovered, be sure to record any serial numbers and keep them in a safe place, as you would the items themselves. Attend any police-sponsored public viewings of seized stolen property. Ensure that you bring proof of ownership, such as serial numbers or a copy of your police report, to claim your item.


    Never try to claim stolen property displayed in a pawn shop yourself. Due to privacy laws, a pawn shop owner will only surrender an item to law enforcement personnel who can present proof that it is stolen.

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About the Author

Chiara Sakuwa has been a writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Liberty Champion" newspaper and "The New World Encyclopedia" project. She is also the author of the novel "The Lady Leathernecks." She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Campbell University and a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University.

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