Myrtle Beach police desire partnership to keep stolen items out of pawn shops

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – After the owner of a Myrtle Beach pawn shop was arrested this week for receiving over $10,000 worth of stolen items, News13 set out to speak with police and other pawn shop owners to understand how the two entities work together to ensure items you purchase at a shop aren’t stolen.

Police and pawn shop owners say while it may be difficult to tell at first if an item is stolen, there’s a process each pawn shop must go through with police to account for every item that comes in a store.

“This customer brought in this saw a couple of weeks ago,” explains Phil Coleman, owner of Bay Pawn Shop.

Coleman says after two decades in business, he can almost immediately tell when a stolen item is brought into his store.

“If I’m weary or I’m suspicious, I just don’t take it,” explains Coleman. “If someone brings in like multiple items of one thing, we don’t take it, because it doesn’t look right. If it’s a brand-new item, I typically, if I’m suspicious, ask them for a receipt for it.”

Coleman says asking for proof of purchase is a preventative measure before he even gets police involved.

By law, Lt. Joey Crosby with Myrtle Beach Police says when a pawn shop purchases an item, it has to send the model and serial number to police, where they match it up with stolen items in their database.

“For example, if you have something like a weed eater or a tool that was stolen from your vehicle, the individual that stole it then went to a pawn shop, when the pawn shop enters in the serial number into our database, then that database then shares that information with NCIC. NCIC then gives us a report back that that’s a stolen piece of equipment,” says Lt. Crosby.

The next step for Myrtle Beach Police to ensure items purchased at a pawn shop aren’t stolen is to work with loss prevention teams in retail stores along the Grand Strand.

“Loss prevention is a partnership that we definitely need because we can share information into patterns that they’re seeing and in patterns that we’re seeing to try to identify suspects that are shoplifting from the store,” explains Lt. Crosby. “So, once they’re shoplifting from the store, we are able to determine what was taken then, also we can look at what was taken from the store to see if it’s being pawned in some of the pawn shops.”

The search warrant to specify what items police were going after in Steve’s Pawn Shop is still not available. The arrest warrant showed the owner, Steve Wiggins, had multiple items that were new in original packaging and that several people brought him those items on a daily basis. News13 spoke with Wiggins by phone Friday, but he refused our request to speak on camera, explaining he had “nothing to say.”

Crosby says there may be more arrests in this case.