New Jersey Woman Paid for Stolen Item Found in Pawn Shop

Rene Folger of Bayonne, New Jersey has filed a police complaint after she found her stolen iPad for sale in a pawn shop. Folger says BYM Pawnbroker & Antiques wouldn’t let her recover the device until she paid their asking price for it, even though she claims she could prove it was hers and that it was stolen. After taking to Facebook to vent, her plight has garnered national attention and stirred up conversations over whether or not third parties (such as pawn shops) have an obligation to take a loss in theft cases.

Folger’s initial Facebook post read, “24 days ago my home was burglarized. Today I purchased my Stolen Ipad (sic) from this store. Doesn’t it seem cruel that a pawn shop can legally get away with charging the victim!!!!” While Folger has notified the police, officials as well as the owner of BYM say that the shop isn’t in the wrong. However, police have told Folger that had she waited out the police investigation that was delving into her home security complaint, she would have received her recovered iPod free of charge—assuming another patron hadn’t already purchased it.

A personal loss

It’s not just the financial loss of the iPad, a costly device, according to Folger, but also pictures, contacts and which was on it. However, BYM’s owner says that proper procedures were followed to make sure the iPod wasn’t stolen, but those procedures aren’t perfect. Like many pawn shops, every purchased item is documented and two pieces of identification are required from every seller. That information has been provided to the Bayonne Police Department after waiting the requisite 10 days post-purchase to see if anything is flagged as stolen.

That 10 day grace period that BYM adheres to allows for a timely allotment for flagged items. If an item gets earmarked, the store considers it a forfeit and takes a loss. However, in the case of gadgets like iPods, the inclusion of personal information that doesn’t match that of the seller isn’t a red flag. Many people or purchase them used, so it’s common to have multiple information in a single device.

The pawn shop’s side

According to BYM’s owner, who chose to remain anonymous, “It’s not up to me to decide if it is stolen or not stolen. Most of the stuff is not stolen.” Since sellers have to provide identification, most burglars and thieves don’t want to take such a risk. Folger reports that she paid $75 to buy her own iPad, which was a discount and the price the owner paid the burglar for it. “We followed protocol, we did nothing wrong on our end; it was a favor to give it back to her, by law,” he says.

Capt. Robert Geisler at the Bayonne Police Department has gone on record saying he’s not certain whether the department actually received any documents from BYM regaring the iPad, but often sends officers to local pawn shops following a burglary report. That’s how the iPad was spotted and a detective thought it might be Folger’s. No arrests have been made regarding the burglary.