Retail theft, pawn shop resale cases grow

Retail theft is a serious, growing problem that costs consumers and retailers millions of dollars every year.

WEST JORDAN — Utah retailers are experiencing a trend of continuous and severe retail theft from their stores, where persons (who often admit to opioid/heroin addiction) steal merchandise with the intent of selling it to buy more drugs.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office has shared information regarding a recent case which focuses on a pawn shop whose manager and employees bought thousands of dollars of stolen merchandise and then resold it at a profit, knowing it was stolen from retailers and that the money exchanged would be likely used to purchase more drugs.

This case is one arrest in a growing and serious problem which is costing the retailers and consumers millions of dollars this year.

The Utah Attorney General’s office has filed eight felony charges against John ‘Johnny’ Jones, manager of West Jordan Xtreme Pawn, for a continuing pattern of buying and selling property with the knowledge that the merchandise was stolen from various retail businesses in Utah.

Detectives seized an estimated $1.2 million in brand new in-the-box merchandise when warrants were served during the investigation.

• As the result of a criminal investigation, undercover officers stated that they witnessed transactions where property was sold to Xtreme Pawn “…with little or no questions about the origin of items, why they were selling rather than returning, or if a receipt was available.”

• According to the charging document, retailers “expressed concern about the volume of brand new in-the-box items being sold online by a number of pawnshops along the Wasatch Front.”

Several items were documented for sale with the retailer’s ‘spider wire’ anti-theft device still on the package. The affected retail and outlet stores included Home Depot, Lowes, Target, Shopko, Kroger Foods, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS Pharmacy and others.

• In the charging document, a witness said John ‘Johnny’ Jones admitted that “probably 80 percent of everything they buy is stolen.” One of the shoplifters said Extreme Pawn would “never ask questions and would buy anything.”

Another witness said that “…everything she pawned was stolen the same day and immediately pawned. She further stated that all the money she received from the pawn shops was used to buy drugs.”

• Jones was charged with: Pattern of Unlawful Activity (First degree felony); Theft of lost, mislaid or mistakenly delivered property, (Second degree felony); Receiving stolen property, (Second degree felony); four counts: Receiving stolen property (One first degree/three third degree felony); and Communications fraud (First degree felony).

The suspect John Jones has been ordered to self-surrender to Salt Lake County Jail prior to his next court date. Xtreme Pawn in West Jordan remains open for business. This investigation is ongoing.

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