Authorities: Avoid 'hot' holiday gifts

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – ‘Tis the season to be a jolly shopper, but also to be a wary one.
Every year during the holiday shopping season people look for bargains to ease the tension on their wallets. Sometimes a deal may sound too good to be true, and more than likely it is, possibly because it’s part of a criminal enterprise.
Paying for stolen property may seem like you’re getting something for an extremely discounted price, but if you are caught by authorities, the cost can be much steeper.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said he deals with people buying and selling stolen property on a weekly basis. Often the buyer thinks they haven’t done anything wrong, but Johnson said whether they were told it was stolen or not, they have still committed a crime.
“Receiving stolen property is a crime,” said Johnson. “You may think you are getting a mega-deal but you are in the same boat as the person who stole the merchandise. You are responsible for being in possession of stolen property.”
Receiving stolen property can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the goods. If it is valued at less than $500 then the person who received the stolen goods can serve up to six months in the county jail and pay up to a $1,000 fine. If the value is more than $500 then the person can serve up to 10 years in prison and have to pay a $10,000 fine.
Tupelo Police Capt. Chuck Bunn said a rule of thumb for avoiding buying stolen property is that if the deal is too good to be true, then it probably is.
“Some of the popular things you’ll see being sold are GPS systems, iPods, televisions, cameras and other things taken from cars and homes,” said Bunn. “People just have to use good judgment. If a guy is selling cameras out of the trunk of his car then there is a strong possibility that they are stolen.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.