Pawnshops get gift of gadgets

Durham police think merchandise stolen from a store

Staff WriterMarch 2, 2006 

For the past year, some city pawnshops have touted a sweet supply of brand new iPods, digital cameras and other electronic gadgets.

Now, police think they know where the items came from --a Staples office supply store in Chapel Hill. An employee of the store has been charged with taking nearly $13,000 worth of merchandise, then driving to Durham to unload the items.

Police homed in on the theft after reviewing logs of daily buyers, sellers and traders to pawnshops, said Investigator Robert Wilson of the Durham Police Department. One name kept popping up: Raheed Conway of Carrboro.

"That stirred my interest," Wilson said.

Pawnshops are required to get the name, address and phone number of anyone who brings in items, Wilson said.

The investigator learned that Conway had been working at a Staples store on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Since 2004, employees there had noticed items such as MP3 players and calculators disappearing.

Wilson said he doesn't think the pawnshop operators knowingly sold the stolen goods. Shops often report questionable traders to police, he said.

"They'll call me and say, 'I don't feel good about this guy, you should check him out,' " said Wilson, Durham police's designated pawnshop investigator.

Conway, 20, of 2143 Dewitt Smith Road in Pittsboro, is scheduled to appear in court March 28.

Staff writer Samiha Khanna can be reached at 956-2468 or skhanna@newsobserver.com.

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