Surprise follows purchase of Xbox
Erin Ashley, 33, of St. Albans bought an Xbox console from a Kanawha County pawnshop last Saturday and got the shock of her life.
The system she bought was the exact one stolen from her home five months prior.
"My kids wanted me to get another one (Xbox) so I called some pawnshops in the area and found one similar to the one we had before," Ashley said. "I purchased it and brought it home. Once they hooked it up, they yelled, 'Mom, we bought back our Xbox.'"
Ashley said the player profiles her two sons had saved into the system were still there and one of the games stolen was still inside the disc compartment.
She compared the serial number on the machine to the one on its original box and it was a match. She paid $139 for her stolen Xbox.
Ashley's home was robbed in late April while she was out of town.
She said the intruder(s) used a ladder and came through the window. According to Ashley, both the Xbox and Wii gaming consoles, various games, bedding and some guns she had secured in the attic were stolen from her property.
Ashley said once she discovered her home was robbed, she immediately filed a police report with the Kanawha County Police Department.
She claims she provided the responding deputy with the serial number of the Xbox and was told she would be notified if any of her items could be successfully tracked down.
Five months passed and she heard nothing.
"I wanted to wait a while to see if the Xbox could be found," Ashley said. "After five months, my boys were getting restless and I gave in."
Once she discovered the Xbox was hers, she contacted the pawnshop and explained the situation.
She was informed the only way she could be refunded was if the deputy on the case accompanied her to the pawnshop and determined it is her property.
The pawnshop representative Ashley spoke to said there was a Wii in stock that likely belongs to her as well since it was pawned by the same individual who pawned the X-box.
Detective Scott Deitz of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department said he looked back at the initial police report and determined that no Wii was reported stolen but the department will investigate the matter.
Deitz says each pawnshop has its own electronic software in which employees insert the make, model, description and serial numbers of items they receive. At the beginning or end of each business day, the pawnshops are expected to upload that information to LeadsOnline, a national database.
LeadsOnline is said to be the nation's largest online investigation system used by detectives for the investigation of crimes in order to catch crooks.
Deitz said if the serial number on LeadsOnline is compatible with the one in the National Crime Information Center's computerized index, he would do an initial recovery of the stolen item(s) and immediately begin an investigation. He looks at who pawned the item, whether that person knew the item was stolen before pawning it, as well as other factors before he moves forward with prosecution.
Deitz said his department works collaboratively with other state police departments and departments within West Virginia to recover stolen merchandise and move forward with investigations.
In Ashley's case, Deitz said the pawnshop failed to upload the serial number into LeadsOnline and that is why her Xbox had not been found yet.
An assistant manager at Kanawha Valley Fine Jewelry and Loan in St. Albans, the pawnshop where Ashley purchased her stolen X-box, said employees upload information into LeadsOnline each morning.
Deitz said the serial numbers have to be entered correctly to LeadsOnline or there will not be a match and stolen merchandise may never be found.
Deitz said LeadsOnline has helped his department solve a lot of cases.
"Many people are shocked when their property is returned in short order or when it was an item that had been missing for years," Deitz said. "We were once able to track down someone's stolen items before finishing the police report."
Deitz said he finds more stolen merchandise in pawnshops during the summer months and around Christmas time.
LeadsOnline has a section on its website, www.leadsonline.com, in which people can register their items in case those items were to get stolen.
Ashley's investigation is ongoing, and Deitz said his department will take care of the situation.
John Gibb can be contacted at 304-348-1796 or email@example.com.