POLICE have launched a campaign to halt the ‘Del Boy’ effect in Sussex.
Businesses handling second-hand goods are urged to join them in the bid to trace people handling stolen goods.
One investigation that is currently ongoing involves a burglary at Hove Park School in June, when thieves stole more than 150 iPads, worth more than £35,000.
A number of the iPads, which had been purchased for the students’ use, have since been recovered and detectives have so far charged one man with handling the stolen iPads.
Kay Ramis, 27, of Hebe Road, Shoreham, is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on February 19, charged with handling stolen goods.
Police have now launched a campaign to reverse the Del Boy effect in Sussex, referring to the ‘hero’ of the long-running TV series Only Fools and Horses, who made his money selling items that were fake or had fallen off the back of a lorry.
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.
“You do not have to know that something is stolen to commit an offence if you buy it – just believing that it could be stolen is enough.
“If you are found with a stolen item you could be arrested and prosecuted. It is also likely that we will seize the item from you and you will lose not only the money you have paid but the item as well, so it will no longer seem such a good deal.
“We can all do our bit to reduce burglary by making the market for stolen goods dry up.”
Handling stolen goods is a serious offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment but research suggests one in four people would buy stolen items if they were offered them cheaply enough.
The study by insurance company LV= also revealed burglars often break into homes looking for specific brands of goods they know they can sell quickly and easily.
Police hope to make burglary less profitable by working with second-hand dealers to remove the market for stolen goods and encouraging residents to ask themselves if the price is too good to be true.
The aim is to leave burglars with nowhere to go to sell the items they steal and the first step involves helping traders to identify those who might be trying to sell them stolen goods.
PCSOs and police officers will be visiting shops across the county and 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.
If you have any information about burglaries, please call 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see or hear a burglary taking place call 999 immediately.
Residents can also being encouraged to register their items at www.immobilise.com