ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Buyer beware. You're probably looking for bargains these days, but be careful. If you pick the wrong deal, your effort to stretch a dollar could leave you with a citation for theft by receiving.
In Albany property crimes remain high. In January alone there were 326 property crimes, among them 112 burglaries and 192 larcenies. Thieves looking to make a quick buck are finding some unlikely customers for their stolen goods during these tough economic times. In Albany they've unknowingly approached police officers.
"Certain times of the year especially when children go back to school August, September, I always find someone that has uniforms in their trunk," said Lt. Bonita Childs, Albany Police.
If you're buying suspect goods, trying to save a buck, it could land you in trouble, and it all comes down to what you know and the circumstances of your purchase.
"You should have known based on the totality of the circumstances, something that's $500, you got it for $40, buying something out of someone's trunk, if in fact it's theirs they should be able to produce a receipt or something showing it was a legitimate purchase," said Childs.
"It's all about using good judgement and making a decision and looking at again the circumstances that are surrounding the property," said Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards.
That good judgement could keep you from being charged with receiving stolen property. If the stolen merchandise is more than $500 then it's considered a felony, but law enforcers fear you're creating a market for crime.
"When you provide a market for the thief you're encouraging that continued type of conduct," said Edwards.
That's why they say if the deal is too good to be true it probably is and if the person you're buying from can't produce legitimate receipts, it's better not to buy.
Albany Police encourage the community to turn in thieves who may try to profit in their neighborhoods by selling items on the street. They say you can make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers at (229) 436-tips to report the unlawful sale of goods.