UPDATE: I WAS ROBBED! plus some property recovery tips

Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind has a new home at www.CheapEncounters.com!

I posted last week about some rat bastard(s) breaking into my home and stealing some of my stuff. A few developments since my previous post:

  • We figured out that the burglar(s) also took a framed family picture that was in our entertainment center along with the electronics. The only thing we can figure is that they wanted the frame.
  • My brother-in-law and I successfully installed a new door and frame. Total cost of the repair is going to end up being about $200.
  • I called the incident into our neighborhood’s security patrol line. Not that there is really an active security patrol, but you can leave voicemail messages which are reviewed by an officer specifically assigned to the neighborhood for follow-up.

My other brother-in-law also did a Craig’s List posting offering a reward for the recovery of his stolen guitar, which got an interesting and informative response from a former HPD officer. The former officer provided some tips on trying to recover property stolen in a burglarly. The information is specific to the city of Houston, but would likely be similar in other areas.

  • Make sure that a copy of the police report with the information on the stolen items makes it to the pawn shop detail. This group is specifically assigned to enter and review pawn tickets submitted by local pawn shops for stolen goods. These tickets must be completed whenever a pawn shop accepts an item for pawn and turned into the police. There are very few officers that work this detail, so persistence is key.
  • Items pawned in Houston must be held for 30 days. In theory, items pawned are collateral for loans made by the pawnbroker and if and when the person who brought the item in does not pay back the loan the item can be sold by the pawnbroker to recover what he is owed. The transaction is not an outright sale of the property to the pawn shop.
  • If the items were pawned, they are most likely to show up in a shop across town after the 30 day waiting period is over.
  • Expect to do a lot of legwork to find your items in a pawn shop.
  • If you do find an item that is your in a pawn shop, DO NOT declare that it is yours! Act interested in the item and ask the shop to hold it for you, leave, and call police. Make sure to have a copy of your police report detailing the item(s) to provide to the responding officer. As our friend noted “The pawnshop is interested in making money, NOT in helping you get your property returned. They have already paid money out.” As we are reminded here, the pawn shop has no incentive to return your property, as they have already paid money for it and lose completely if you reclaim the item as stolen goods.

Perhaps these tips will help someone else out there. We certainly never realized that we shouldn’t confront the pawn shop ourselves if we find our property or that it would take 30 days to show up on the shelves.


July 9, 2007 - Posted by | Crime, Home Ownership


  1. I’ve been on hold for about 80 minutes for the pawn shop detail. The only number I found for them is 713-308-0939. Is that how you reach them? What kind of hold time did you experience?

    Comment by Matt | August 14, 2007

  2. That’s what I had as well. I never actually got through. I was on hold for about an hour and then it stopped ringing then hung up.

    Apparently this is like the rest of HPD – USELESS!

    Comment by billyoceanseleven | August 14, 2007

  3. I am a pawnbroker in the state of Nebraska, and I’m not sure if the laws are the same but I would assume they are similar. In defense of the statement that pawn shops are not interested in getting your item back to you, that is not true in our case. I’m sure some shops will only be looking to make a profit whether the item is stolen or not, but I’ve found that to be a very rare occasion in this instance. There is enough negative attitude towards the pawn business that we will usually assist in getting stolen property back to the original owner. We may not make money on the item, but we are at least reimbursed the money we paid for the it.

    The best tip we can give anyone is to keep a record of all serial numbers of anything your afraid of being stolen. This will greatly increase the chances of recovering your item if it is indeed pawned.

    A lot of the smarter (I know, oxymoron) thieves have learned that pawn shops are the last place they should take stolen items because they are tightly regulated and policed. The fines for dealing with known thieves (at least in this state) are steep, therefore a lot of times the item will find it’s way on the street and will be next to impossible to recover. It would actually be a great relief to find your items in a pawn shop, because then you can at least get them back.

    You are right in the fact that you should not confront the pawn shop if you see an item of yours. By law, we are not allowed to release any information to you about the person(s) who pawned it, and asking questions usually only leads to a bitter conversation. Good luck in recovering your items, I hope all turns out well for you.

    Comment by Derek | March 7, 2008

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