Archive for Sunday, December 4, 2005

Business owners deny role in stolen goods case

Police investigating Yellow House Store

December 4, 2005


One day after police searched their Lawrence business and home, the owners of a resale store denied being involved in a stolen property fencing operation.

"We do not buy stuff that we know is stolen," said Guy Neighbors, co-owner of the Yellow House Store, 1904 Mass.

Lawrence Police said on Friday that the search warrants were part of a two-month investigation into the buying of stolen property and selling it in the area and on the Internet in "one of the largest, most sophisticated fencing operations" in Lawrence.

No arrests have been made in the case, and police said they would examine the property recovered on Friday as the investigation continued.

Guy Neighbors said the warrant specifically named a few items in the store that one individual had sold to them. He also said that during the search police had taken other items from the store as part of the investigation.

Friday afternoon, officers took several boxes and some bicycles from the home.

But Neighbors denied ever buying anything from someone when he knew it was stolen.

"Fencing would be intentionally, knowingly purchasing stolen property," he said.

On Saturday, the couple reopened their store, and Neighbors said the timing of the investigation puzzled him after about 25 years of operating the business in Lawrence.

"If we were doing this, it wouldn't have taken them this long to find out," he said.

Neighbors also said he thought it was more difficult for a resale store owner to guard against buying stolen property than pawn shops, which are state-licensed.

"We ask if things are stolen, and if people tell us no, what can we do?" he said.

"I have to trust the people that bring this stuff in that they are getting it legitimately," co-owner Carrie Neighbors said.

Guy Neighbors said he respected the police department and that it was doing its job by investigating stolen property cases.

"These guys have been working their tails off trying to figure out what happened," he said.

But he was also frustrated after Friday and articulated several times that he and his wife were not knowingly involved in stealing.

"We do not intentionally buy stolen property. We run a family business," he said.

Neighbors described the boxes removed from their home as full of old football cleats and other shoes that he bought from someone and planned to sell on the store's eBay Web site.

The bicycles removed were ones they had bought from people at their store. They keep the bicycles at their home during the winter to free up space in the store.

"I don't know how many of them are stolen or if any of them are stolen," Neighbors said.

Police also took other items from the house, including jewelry, but those items had nothing to do with his business, he said. Officers finished their search and turned the house back over to them Friday night.

As for now, the couple are waiting to hear more from police. Guy Neighbors said he was waiting for the "smoke to clear" and hoping that Friday was initial excitement in the investigation.

More details, he said, would clear them of wrongdoing.

The couple said Friday's events made it difficult because they were active in their church and other activities in the community.

"When you try to live your life and do things the right way, it was a little hard to step out of the house," he said. "But the fact of the matter is, we didn't intentionally do anything wrong."


Jeremy Lichtenauer 12 years, 5 months ago

Isn't this the same folks who were convicted of selling illegal weapons some years back? I seem to remember them advertising in the trading post to have a barbecue to raise funds for an appeal. Is this the same group or am I losing it?

compmd 12 years, 5 months ago

"Police also took other items from the house, including jewelry, but those items had nothing to do with his business, he said."

I'm not the only person here who has a very serious problem with this statement, am I? The breadth and depth of a search warrant are supposed to be clearly defined. The article even mentions that the warrant specifically named a few items. But jewelry from their residence that is not related to the business? Granted, we don't have the whole story here. However, let us not forget the 4th Amendment.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 5 months ago

If I were these folks I would not be saying anything. For instance the man said "We do not buy anything we know is stolen"....

Perhaps they a have a list of articles that have been stolen however saying nothing at the moment is likely best.

Ragingbear 12 years, 5 months ago

They didn't know because they didn't want to know. Yeah, there were some great deals there. But that was mainly because they would pay $10 for a $200 bicycle. It has been known as crooked for as long as I have been here. And I have been here for over 4 years.

cowboy 12 years, 5 months ago

we'll see what they bring to court on charges , I would be sad to see this all be true , Guy and Carrie are really great people. How is a second hand buyer supposed to know something is stolen ?

As long as they were not concealing it. Sounds like some target freight was missing.

the police years back hit Carrie with a felony charge for selling throwing stars , the same stuff that is sld on every counter today. Why the scrutiny ?

Tell the PD to go over to the Habib store on 23rd and watch them sell crack pipes off the counter then pull out the brillo for them from under the counter , I about fell over when I saw that one !

cantbelieveit 12 years, 5 months ago

I can't believe what they are saying! These people bought an item that was stolen, and when the owners of the item went in there business and showed them proof that is was truely theres and that it had been stolen they lied and said they didn't have it! The stolen item was found and showed more proof these people had it all the time! Instead of doing the right thing and giving it back to the rightful owners they went ahead and sold it and didn't even care!

rousseau108 12 years, 5 months ago

compmd, you're right, we don't have the whole story so let's refrain from automatically taking the word of the suspects and criticizing the police. of course the suspects are going to say they're innocent. and even if the jewelry itself was not stolen property, if it was purchased using funds from illegal activity it is fair game for forfeiture. when the same people w/ no sign of employment bring in new power tools and electronics on a weekly basis, it doesn't take a genius to think maybe something is not on the up and up. yes, these people are such good neighbors and churchgoers, blah, blah, etc. yet so were marty miller and dennis rader. not that i'm equating murder w/ the trafficking of stolen property

mutpuppy 12 years, 5 months ago

Think about this. You leave your "bike" for example, where it is stolen. Someone takes it to the yellow house and says they want to sell their bike. If the yellow house pays $50 for it, for example, and you come in and want it back... you should have to pay what they are out to get your property back. Otherwise yellowhouse is out the $50. If they turn down the buy, your bike just ends up somewhere else and you'll probably never get it back.

Secondly, it's just like people from lawrence, KS to stereotype. what does "people with no sign of emplyoment" look like? Someone in their saturday jammies could be a successful business man selling a camera because they need to buy a higher quality digital one and don't need their old one anymore.

Just to let all of you know, from all of the stuff the police confiscated less than 1% of that is going to turn out to have been stolen... and this will have been a complete waste of your tax dollars. I guess lawrence police have nothing better to do anyway. Except they should be sitting at Target catching the people stealing goods and giving tickets to people speeding out 23rd to K10 coming over those hills so there will not be so many accidents.

Yellowhouse writes a check to anyone that they buy stuff from and when that check is cashed the bank has to see ID. If they were fencing, they would not keep records of who they are buying their goods from. Just check the bank, there is nothing to hide. So if something was stolen and brought to the yellowhouse, the police should be investigating the checks and hunting down the people that steal.

You all will see when everything is said and done how ignorant your comments are. Don't believe all that you read in the papers. Don't you think if the police had enough evidence for a case that they would have brought charges and that someone would have been arrested?

Rant 12 years, 5 months ago

A lot of you have posted comments about seeing known criminals fencing items at this store. It seems to me if these people are "known" to you as being criminals then stop being lazy and turn them in. This is your community take some pride in it. Or is it the case that these known criminals happend to be your self or one of your family members. Also if it takes 25 years for the police to bust a small time fencing operation, you might want to start spending some money on training.

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