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By Cristin Severance
86015072 Confusion About City Ordinance Means Stolen Goods Sold Legally

(credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A Consumer Justice investigation found your valuables could be stolen and sold the same day at some stores in North Texas. And it’s all because one city can’t agree on how to enforce its own law.

Paula Cushanick says burglars kicked in her front door and stormed through the house. “They came in and took everything they could, as fast as they could,” said Cushanick. “The whole thing took less than seven minutes.” By the time Cushanick arrived home, the flatscreen television, video game consoles, games, movies, and her husband’s watch collection were gone. “We don’t have a lot of fancy stuff, but the stuff we have we worked very hard for,” said Cushanick.

Dallas police tracked down most of her stolen goods at local pawn shops. But the Xbox, games and movies were taken to Entertainmart in Arlington. Cushanick says the detective told her, the used electronics store processed and sold the video game system in the same day.

Cushanick called Consumer Justice to find out how that could happen. “It doesn’t feel right that these people can profit off of my loss.”

The City of Arlington’s regulated property ordinance is designed to keep stores from selling stolen goods. The ordinance says businesses that buy and sell “regulated property” must “withhold the property from resale for 20 business days.” The first item listed under “regulated property” is “electronic equipment.” The problem: no one in Arlington seems to agree what exactly that means.

At first, the City Attorney’s office told us businesses like Entertainmart and GameStop are covered by the ordinance. But a detective in Arlington PD’s pawn shop unit later said it does not apply to the stores. When we asked for clarification, an Arlington PD spokesperson said the ordinance covers office equipment, not video games. After several emails back and forth, another Arlington PD spokesperson admitted that the city couldn’t agree on the definition.

“The question is, does the ordinance apply to these electronics stores,” said Lt. Christopher Cook. “That’s the question we could not get a grasp on… because keep in mind this ordinance is 20 years old.”

Cook says the ordinance is too general; because it could cover everything, the city will not legally apply it to anything. He says, don’t blame the stores. “It would be unfair for us to say ‘you guys are doing it all wrong’ when we as the police department have not held them accountable.”

Cook says the city is now reviewing the ordinance with plans to update it.

Entertainmart has not responded to calls and emails for comment.

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