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."