UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) — An Upper Arlington woman said she feels victimized twice after her jewelry was stolen and she had to pay more than $2,000 to get it back.
It wasn’t ransom. It was a legal transaction under Ohio law.
“I became friends with a person who was in my home, who I entrusted,” said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous. “That person stole all of my jewelry, all of my mother’s jewelry, every piece of good jewelry I had in the house. And I did not find that until approximately 10 days later when the person was already gone.”
According to the victim, about two dozen items were missing. A report from the Upper Arlington Police Department lists the total value of stolen items at just under $35,000, but the victim said some of the jewelry was worth more than any dollar amount.
“My mother’s wedding ring, my grandmother’s antique wedding set, my own wedding ring– some personal items that had been handed down to me when my mother passed away that I could never replace with financial reimbursement on any case,” she said.
Remarkably, police managed to track down some of those items at two local pawn shops.
“Then I was instructed that I would have to go to the pawnshop and pay the pawn dealer to get them back,” the victim said.
She described that revelation as “jaw-dropping.”
“I had just had all of my personal items stolen,” she said. “I felt very violated, and then to find out that I had to then pay the pawnbroker to get my own stolen jewelry back seemed a little bit out of the realm of possibilities.”
The victim now has eight of the stolen pieces back, but had to pay $2,100 to get them, she said.
That’s because the Ohio Pawnbrokers Act leaves room for pawnbrokers to charge people for their stolen belongings.
Raphael Tincher, president of the Ohio Pawnbrokers Association, said under the law, it’s less of a price tag and more of a settlement.
“It’s a civil matter, basically,” Tincher said. “The pawnbroker has a right to due process. Because they have constitutional rights, just like everybody else.”
Rarely, Tincher said, do stolen belongings end up in licensed pawn shops. There are a number of safeguards in place that prevent that from happening, including a requirement that people pawning the items show proper identification. Pawnshops are also required to hold certain items for 15 days before selling them, in case they’re stolen.
According to the OPA, stolen items typically account for less than 1 percent of a pawn shop’s inventory.
Tincher said the Ohio Pawnbrokers Act is designed to protect pawnbrokers from suffering losses after purchasing an item that turns out to be stolen.
“You sell it back to the person for the amount of money that you have in it, so you’re not making money,” he said.
The act does allow people to sue pawnbrokers to get their belongings back without paying, but the victim said she wants to avoid spending the money, time, or energy that goes into a lawsuit. Tincher said that’s most often the case.