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August 13, 2006

Hot Items on Ebay

And I mean HOT. Some of our GPS equipment has recently appeared on Ebay, as well as has GPS equipment from another user in town. My boss happenend to find a receiver we've been missing for almost three years on Ebay last week, and on Friday I had lunch with some work folks and a fellow who does some contract work for us told us the following story:

Said man buys used GPS equipment sometimes for his business, and found a screaming deal on Ebay. He purchased the equipment using PayPal, which means the payment went through immediately, and then headed into Denver (the operation selling the equipment happened to be local) to pick up his goods. He brought them home, noting that serial numbers had been removed, and did a little sleuthing. It doesn't take much. He connected to the equipment with his computer and checked the serial numbers internally, and immediately recognized the gear as equipment which had been stolen from a client of his about a year ago. He took the equipment back to the outlet in Denver, got his money back, and headed back the next day with the sheriff and the rightful owners. They were able to recover three of their four items (not all, unfortunately, because of slightly sloppy record-keeping).

Let this be a lesson to you.

Let this be the following several lessons to you, actually:

1) Be wary of used items you buy from an unlisenced source. Most fancy items like GPS equipment, cameras, and computers have serial numbers. If the serial number has been removed, be suspicious. If it does have a serial number, register your item when you get it, and you might find that it's already been registered--another guy I work with said he bought a projector off Ebay, and discovered the item had been stolen when he tried to register it online. The company he had bought it from then bought him a brand new projector. Just keep in mind that you might be obtaining something that somebody else is missing.

2) Keep good records. If you don't have a record of having an item, you can't reclaim the item.

3) Don't steal. Stealing is bad. Reselling things that have been stolen is also bad, so don't do that either. Buying things that you know are stolen is also bad. Don't do bad things.

Also, to note: UNAVCO property is actually government property, and stealing government property is, I believe, a federal offense. So not only is it bad, but getting caught means you're in deep doo-doo. Don't steal from UNAVCO. Whoever posted our receiver on Ebay not only left our UNAVCO sticker on it, but left it visible in the picture. Bad, and stupid too.

Ebay can be great, but is a venue which facilitates easy, unregulated buying and selling. So be careful. In general. Look both ways when crossing the street. And when buying used GPS gear off the internet.

Posted by beth at August 13, 2006 10:56 PM

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great and informative (and amusing) read, beth. maybe you should post these words by your equipment when you do an install... not that that would deter the idiot doing the swiping. but then, maybe noone ever told them that it is bad to steal. it's about time they learn! hopefully the people who are mentioned in the story are suffering some consequence for their actions.

Posted by: wilma - mother of beth at August 14, 2006 10:27 PM

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