NER asks law-enforcement officers the question: “What will happen if a police officer learns I’m in possession of stolen equipment?” Responses have been varied and informative. Here's what Investigator Steve Nowlin of the Colorado State Patrol had to say:
"My experience is that each and every case is different. During my contact with an individual in possession of stolen equipment, I often learn from him or her within the first couple of minutes who the lawful owner is. I also learn how the individual came in possession of the equipment and how long he or she has had it.
"If the purchase is fraudulent, law enforcement will seize the equipment and return it to the legal owner as soon as possible. If the person found in possession will aid in the investigation, I will help him or her try to retrieve the money paid for the stolen equipment. In most cases, however, the purchaser of the stolen equipment is unable to recoup the money.
"If law enforcement finds that the purchaser knew or should reasonably have known that the equipment was stolen, we’ll arrest the purchaser and charge him or her with receiving stolen property. Again, we seize the equipment and return it to the legal owner as soon as possible.
"If the person in possession of stolen equipment has been involved in the purchase, use, or maintenance for any length of time, it’s usually easy for me to prove the elements of the crime of theft by receiving. All equipment buyers or owners must beware and know what they’re buying or have in their possession. It’s easy for buyers and owners to contact NER or trained law enforcement to ensure against such a problem.
"If law enforcement determines that the person in possession is the actual thief, we’ll arrest that person and charge him or her with multiple felonies, including aggravated motor vehicle theft. And as always, law enforcement will seize the equipment and return it to the legal owner as soon as possible."