Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix A: Summary of Responses to Stolen Goods Markets

The table below summarizes the responses to stolen goods markets, the means by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they should work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.


General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
1Adopting a comprehensive approach to stolen goods marketsIt reduces both the supply and the demand for stolen goods…it's based on known effective practicesIt can be difficult to maintain a focus on stolen goods markets as opposed to the traditional focus on original thefts
2Establishing and sustaining multiagency partnershipsIt improves communication and coordination among key respondersworking groups coordinate activity and maintain focus, and written protocols establish clear responsibilities and authorityPartner agencies can have differing priorities and goals; large partnerships can be difficult to manage and sustain
3Improving investigations of stolen goods marketsIt increases the risks of apprehension to offendersdetectives and officers are open to changing conventional investigative practicesIt may require additional resources to devote to stolen goods markets
Specific Responses To Reduce Stolen Goods Markets
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
4Regulating and inspecting pawn- and secondhand shopsIt increases offenders' effort to sell stolen goods and their risk of apprehensionmerchants can comply with regulations relatively simply and efficiently, and police enforce regulations consistently and fairlyIt may require new legislative action requiring careful police justification; it may require merchants to buy new computerized records and data sharing systems; it may require additional police investigative resources
5Conducting reverse-sting operationsIt promotes greater compliance with regulations restricting the purchase of stolen goodspolice conduct them regularly but at unpredictable intervals, and they focus them on problematic locationsIt may require additional investigative resources
6Conducting publicity campaigns to discourage buying suspected stolen goodsIn conjunction with wider anti-fencing initiative it reduces the demand for stolen goods and increases offenders' efforts to sell themthey are carefully designed and tested before full implementationIt can waste resources if it's ineffective or backfires by encouraging more offending; it can be expensive
7Encouraging those who facilitate stolen goods markets to report thieves and fencesIt increases offenders' risk of apprehensioninformants are provided adequate incentives to provide information and safe avenues to do soIt can increase informants' risk of intimidation or retaliation from offenders
8Closing down fencing operationsIt increases offenders' efforts to sell stolen goods and reduces the wholesale demand for thempolice shut down a sufficient number of—or sufficiently large—operationsIt requires careful and perhaps resource-intensive investigations
9Seizing assets connected to stolen goods marketsIt denies offenders the rewards of trading in stolen goodsantifencing operations have sufficient assets on hand to deter future offendingSome state asset-forfeiture laws are restrictive and difficult to enforce
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
10Conducting traditional anti-fencing sting operationsIt can have the unintended effect of increasing local demand for stolen goods
11Improving systems for disposing of recovered stolen goodsIt is unlikely to reduce theft or stolen goods trading; it may be too resource- intensive
12Promoting property-marking schemesThieves tend to steal and consumers tend to buy even marked property. When police presence returns to normal, crime rates rise to previous levels.