If you think purchasing online a secondhand projector that comes at a very cheap price is a good bargain, then you need to think again. Why? Because you just might be the new owner of a stolen good. If it’s been proven that the projector was stolen and is owned by someone else, then the consequences of owning it can become quite ugly. Not only can you end up paying $250 in penalty, but you might also end up serving two and a half years in a house of correction. Worse, you might end up in a state prison for five years and still end up paying a fine of $500.
What do you have to do?
If you suspect that the projector is probably stolen, then you should stop using it immediately. You need to look for the owner and inform them that you have their projector. When they come for it, you have no other choice but to return the projector.
However, if you can’t find who the owner is, then the best course of action is to report it to the police. They’re going to take the projector away, of course, but it’s better than owning a stolen property knowingly, which will land you in a good deal of trouble if you’ve been caught.
What about the money you spent on it?
Unfortunately, you can’t ask the rightful owner to pay you for giving the projector back. If they compensated you a little for the money you’ve lost, then consider yourself lucky. If not, they consider it your loss.
However, you can sue the person who sold you the projector; that is, if you can locate him. Before you start doing so though, you have to ask yourself if you’re willing to shell out cash to look for the seller, file a breach of contract case against him, and pursue the case if you’ve only spent a small amount of cash for the projector. Then you also have to consider your effort and time in attending the court dates.
Was handling the stolen property a crime?
Handling a stolen property is a crime if you know that the projector was stolen and you decided to keep and use it anyway. If someone reports you or if the owner traced it back to you, then you will be charged with receiving stolen property. You will have to employ the services of a criminal defense lawyer to get you out of the mess you’ve knowingly created. If the court found you guilty, then you might end up paying a fine and serving time in prison.
You will not be charged with receiving stolen property if you’ve immediately reported the stolen goods to the police.
How to protect yourself from purchasing stolen goods?
It only takes common sense to protect yourself from purchasing stolen goods. If the price of the item seems too good to be true, then it probably is. So before you purchase anything, you first have to know more about the seller you’re dealing with by checking out his reputation or asking around. This is especially true if you’re buying the item online. If you have a very strong evidence that it is stolen, not just a mere suspicion, then do the right thing and report it.