Police are urging second-hand businesses to join them in a campaign to reverse the Del Boy effect in Sussex.
Handling stolen goods is a serious offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment but police say research suggests one in four people would buy stolen items if they were offered them cheaply enough - despite the fact the products may have been stolen from families or businesses in their community.
Police hope to make burglary less profitable to thieves by working with second-hand dealers to remove the market for stolen goods in the county and encouraging residents to ask themselves if the price they are being offered is too good to be true.
PCSOs and police officers will be visiting second-hand shops across the county to encourage them to carry out a series of checks on every purchase they make that could have been stolen. Traders can use the online Checkmend system to compare items they are offered with goods listed by police or victims as stolen on the national mobile property register (NMPR). They are also being encouraged to make sure purchases are done in view of CCTV cameras and to take and keep the details of anyone they buy items from - passing any suspicions they have to police.
Firms that agree to sign up to the checks will be given posters to display to thieves that they will check to see if any items they are offered are stolen.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “There is a clear link between burglaries and the second-hand goods market but too many people seem to think that Del Boy-style criminals are just lovable rogues. The fact is that these offenders make their living by selling the stolen possessions of others. They are not victimless or blameless - they are part of a problem that causes real pain to people.
“We are appealing to the public to think when they are offered items that seem to be a great deal. If the price is too good to be true the items are probably stolen - so don’t buy them.”