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What happens when stolen property is found at a pawnshop?

It's a scenario that's plays out throughout Orlando and across the state of Florida on a daily basis: A person is searching for a high-value item that was recently stolen from them -- computer, smartphone, etc. -- and discovers that it has been sold to a local pawnshop.

While the person's natural reaction is simply to demand the item back, the reality isn't actually that simple. Indeed, Florida law dictates that law enforcement officials cannot recover allegedly stolen property from a pawnshop and return it to its purported owner without first affording the pawnbroker an opportunity for a hearing.

What can a person do then if they find their stolen property in a pawnshop?

While one option is to simply purchase the property back, the other option is to seek a court order calling for the return of the stolen property.

How does one go about securing such a court order?

The process of seeking to secure a court order calling for the return of the stolen property is initiated with the filing of a petition with the Clerk of the County Court. It's important to understand, however, that this may be difficult to accomplish without the assistance of a qualified legal professional and that more is required than just the filing of the petition.

What else is required outside of filing the petition?

Under the Florida Pawnbroking Act, the person looking to reacquire their stolen property from a pawnshop is required to notify the pawnbroker 1) in person (evidenced by a signed notice) or 2) via certified mail, return receipt.

What must this notice contain?

The notice must provide an adequate description of the stolen property and also include a copy of a theft report from the applicable law enforcement agency.

We'll continue this discussion in our next post, examining the further requirements of the Pawnbroking Act and what happens if the court grants the petition.

If you are facing any type of theft charge, it's imperative to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as your reputation and even your freedom may be at stake. 

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