Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

The hard sell

Yellow House owners learn hazards of buying used goods

April 22, 2006

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Guy and Carrie Neighbors, owners of Yellow House store, 1904 Mass., have been the subject of a police investigation about whether they've knowingly accepted stolen goods at their resale business. Pawn shops and other resellers have varying levels of precautions to avoid dealing in stolen merchandise.

Guy and Carrie Neighbors, owners of Yellow House store, 1904 Mass., have been the subject of a police investigation about whether they've knowingly accepted stolen goods at their resale business. Pawn shops and other resellers have varying levels of precautions to avoid dealing in stolen merchandise.

Things were turned upside down at one local business last year after police accused the store's owners of selling stolen property by running a fencing operation.

"This is so stressful, you just wouldn't believe," said Carrie Neighbors, co-owner of Yellow House store. "I don't know who to trust and who not to trust. I'm just about to give up buying and selling."

When they raided the store at 1904 Mass. in December, police said they suspected Yellow House of operating one of the largest and most sophisticated fencing operations they'd seen in Lawrence. But Carrie Neighbors and her husband, Guy, countered by saying that they'd been in business for 25 years, were a family operation and never knowingly bought items that were stolen.

Other local merchants who deal in used items say the Yellow House case hasn't had a ripple effect.

"We haven't really changed anything, and I think the procedures that we have protect us," said Chris Jones, manager at Hastings Books Music & Video, 1900 W. 23rd St., which requires people to present a photo ID when they bring in something to sell.

Licensed pawn shops such as Lawrence Pawn & Jewelry, 944 E. 23rd St., have long been required to keep detailed records of what they buy and regularly turn them over to police, owner Doug Wahl said.

"A pawn shop is the absolute worst place to take stolen merchandise," Wahl said.

Sheree Nairn, one of the owners of Freeman Used Furniture, 1145 Pa., said her business didn't stock televisions and other electronic appliances that commonly were stolen. She said that if a seller calls and has items he wants employees to come pick up at his home, employees typically wait a few days and see whether they're still available.

"We've always tried to be careful," she said.

After their store was raided by police, Yellow House's owners put up signs on the store's front door warning people not to bring in stolen items. They also put up a sign referring police to the store's attorney and saying employees were not allowed to talk to investigators.

Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said the investigation involved "tens of thousands of dollars" in questionable sales made over the counter and on the Internet. But as of early April, no formal charges have been filed.

Comments

yellowhouse 9 years ago

Okay other businesses feel safe because they know we were only targeted because we are a bi-racial couple! HOW CAN THEY SAY "TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS" in questionable sales, when not one sale has been proven questionable! MY GOODNESS WHERE ARE MY RIGHTS HERE!!!

These accusations against our business came only after Lawrence Police made a deal with a guy by the name of Russ Williams to bring in some items from Target and convince us to buy it. He never informed us the items were stolen although he was asked point blank several times! This is all they needed to get the search warrant on our home and business! We have his I.D. and thumb print and full name. That has not protected us any!

We have been accused of being the biggest fencers in Lawrence history because of one guy! I guarantee you that we have done nothing to deserve this. We are always giving back to this wonderful community. We were foster parents for 8 years, we have been a family match for Big Brothers Big Sisters for 8 years (and still are), We have helped many in the community. We run an honest business. We have a dealership license to sell our cars, we pay our taxes, we do everything legal here. There have been no charges because we are honest hard working people and we dont intentionally break the law. Other businesses feel safe because they know that what happened to us was racially motivated and since they are white they have nothing to worry about.

I have always respected the Law enforcement in this community, (one of my best friends is an ATF agent) I am deeply saddened by the way we have been slandered in this case. I am also deeply saddended they would make such allogations with the sole intent of putting us out of business before they have any evidence against us. I feel very let down by this town.

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