Merced police go undercover to stop stolen jewelry sales

MERCED, Calif.

An undercover officer tried to sell jewelry to Mariel & Co. in the Merced mall, but the employee refused the items and sent him away.

"I'm really proud of her. She handled it very professionally. She did a good job," jewelry store owner, Keri Mariel said.

Police visited Mariel & Co. and several others earlier in the month to make sure the owners know they must have a second hand dealer's license to buy jewelry or other property from individuals. On Friday, undercover officers tried selling goods to those businesses, and others they learned about along the way.

"Some of the businesses did comply and completely said no we're not a second hand dealer, we can't accept it, and there were a few that went ahead and accepted it," Lt. Tom Trinidad from the Merced Police Department said.

Authorities cited four of the 15 stores, but Lt. Trinidad says the real goal is to discourage the thieves themselves.

"We want to take away the avenue for these people that are committing these thefts to have access to cash," Lt. Trinidad said.

Mariel is in the process of getting the $300 dollar dealer's license from the state. She also plans to start getting fingerprints and photo ID's from sellers, and she'll be required to keep any jewelry she buys for 30 days. But Mariel says it is all worth the effort to help cut down on crime, especially the theft of irreplaceable items.

"Most of the jewelry people buy it's because it remembers something special, an event, a wedding ring, a graduation gift, and so people are really heartbroken when their jewelry gets stolen," Mariel said.

Business owners can pick up a second hand dealer application from the Merced Police Department. The license is good for two years.

Stores caught violating the law can be fined up to $1,500dollars for the first offense, $2,500 for the second and up to $25,000 for the third.

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