Friday, 27 April 2012

Security label makes eBay hard for fences

People selling stolen goods are wary of handling items with a security label – making them less attractive to thieves

The internet offers excellent chances for people selling stolen goods to get rid of their wares to an unsuspecting public in a way that could never be done at a car boot sale or in the back of a seedy pub. But the fences are still wary of handling items with a security label – making the labels an excellent deterrent to thieves.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Laurence King, managing director of anti-theft consultants Oris Group, believes that tens of thousands of pounds worth of stolen goods were sold on the internet auction site eBay every day. Most of this property will not have had a security label put on it by its owners.

Security label important in fight against thieves
In the same article in the newspaper Michael Gallagher, head of crime policy at the British Retail Consortium, claimed that criminals are selling stolen goods from the comfort of their own home, rather than at the car boot sale or in the pub, calling eBay "a virtual fence." Yet it is eBay’s unique customer feedback system that makes security labelling such an important weapon in the fight against thieves.

eBay works because buyers can see every seller’s history – a cumulation of feedback from everybody who has bought something from them previously. Sellers with higher feedback scores will find it easier to sell their goods, meaning the website rewards people who provide honest, quality service. Anyone who receives an item that doesn’t match the description given – bearing a security label marking the item as someone else but the seller’s property, for example – is able to provide enough poor feedback about the seller to stop them trading under their current eBay ID.

Because the best feedback scores take so long to acquire, it is not in a seller’s interest to risk losing their hard-earned feedback over one secondhand item. Consequently, security labelled property is less likely to find its way onto the site.

Security label helps identify fences
Of course, there has always been an element of complicity between some of a fence’s customers and the seller of stolen goods, whether in the pub, the car boot sale or a more legitimate-looking venue (in 2000 the Sun claimed that one in three secondhand computer dealers were involved in fencing stolen goods). But on eBay, one individual can hit a fence’s profits far more effectively than they could in those traditional markets (at least without involving the police) – and the security label undoubtedly makes it easier to identify the seller of stolen goods.

As a more apt and accurate alternative find fences and fencing panels at edecks.

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