Ambitious sweep of pawn shops turns up just six cell telephones

Robbers do not really need a dozen cell telephones. What they need is a place to sell them.

In San José the usual place to dump stolen merchandise is in pawn shops. Some shops are more reputable than others.

Still some of the finest collections of quality cameras and lenses can be found in downtown San José. For investigators, the big problem is that tourists usually do not have the serial numbers of cameras and other goods that crooks take. And not all tourists report crimes.

Cell telephones are a little different. Each has a serial number on file with the telephone companies. So when agents swept through six pawn shops on Calle 8 Thursday, they were able to locate three cell phones that had been reported taken by robbers. They also found three with serial numbers removed.

The sweep was by a handful of police agencies. They are the  Unidad de Intervención Policial and the Unidad Canina of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, the Policía Municipal, the Policía Fiscal and the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Judicial investigators said that they were following up on a February heist at a cell phone outlet in Curridabat.

They said that some of the stolen phones had turned up, and those who had them said they obtained them at the stores that were inspected Thursday.

Curiously there are some pawn shops that are open 24 hours a day, and the suspicion is that the reason is to cater to thieves and robbers who also work 24 hours a day.

During the sweep Thursday police did encounter one man who was the subject of an arrest warrant alleging fraud. He was taken into custody.

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