September 27, 2017 8:46 pm

Inside look: How a new Calgary police team recovered $400K in stolen property

WATCH: A new team with the Calgary Police Service is working to recover items stolen from Calgarians. Nancy Hixt has an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Online Stolen Property Team.

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A new team is working to recover items taken from Calgarians during break-and-enters or car prowlings.

In just four months of operation, the Online Stolen Property Team has worked on 200 cases and seized more than $400,000 worth of hot items.

“A lot of the property that’s being stolen from the break-and-enters are no longer ending up in pawn shops where we traditionally saw it, “ Staff Sgt. Sean Gregson told Global News.

“This property is now being sold online. People are trying to make a quick turnover to make money.”

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READ MORE: Social media and Kijiji fraud cases over stolen property on the rise: Calgary police

Officers respond when victims spot their stolen property for sale online — on Kijiji, Facebook or other popular websites.

“If your property has been stolen I would strongly suggest, for a short period of time anyways, to be looking online for it,” Sgt. Lee Dunbar said.

“It’s extremely frustrating if we don’t get the call quick enough and the item has been sold and taken off.”

A buy typically happens within 24 hours. Some investigations are as short as four hours.

In about 10 per cent of cases it’s too late and the items are gone before investigators can see the online ad.

READ MORE: Calgary condo break-ins underscore need to keep lockboxes secured: police

In a successful case, police set up a meet and patrol officers make the arrest when the offender shows up with the stolen property.

Police also warn it’s not just thieves who can be charged for these online sales.

If you buy something that’s stolen, you are also putting yourself at risk.

“You have to understand… because this is a venue where stolen property is being sold — call it willful blindness so to speak — if something is of value of $5,000 and it’s being sold for $250, that should raise some eyebrows,” Dunbar said.

Investigators advise people to proactively take photos of their belongings, so in the event they fall victim to theft, they are easily able to identify their items.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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