How to Check if a Gun is Stolen?


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4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 03:22 AM
Hi, I just purchased FTF a Saiga 308 from a person on High Road and I was wondering what I can do to check if the gun is stolen. The person seemed legimate and shared all his information with me, like driver license, etc. I just want for a piece of mind to make sure the gun I paid $600 for is not stolen and that I can get in trouble with the law. What is the best thing to do in this situaiton? I know there is no Federal stolen database. I live in Washington, but i know a stolen firearm could be stolen anywhere. I guess what I like to know is just what is the best course to take in checking the legitimacy of this firearm.

Thanks.

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Jeff White
February 4, 2009, 03:26 AM
Take the weapon to your local law enforcement agency and ask them to run it through NCIC. There is a national database of stolen firearms, but it's not accessible by the public.

Many agencies will not do that for you over the phone. They will want possession of the weapon so they may immediately recover it if it turns out to be stolen.

What makes you so suspicious?

expvideo
February 4, 2009, 09:32 AM
What makes you so suspicious?
I doubt it is as much suspicion as it is precaution. I would want to do the same with anything I didn't buy from an FFL, just to make sure I don't go to jail. I would suggest that you spend a day in court with someone who is actually not guilty of a crime, and see how well it turns out for them. I imagine that in your experience with law enforcement, you have probably not seen too much of court from the accused person's perspective. Next time you see someone going through the hassle of fighting for the best plea bargain because their public defender thinks they're guilty and doesn't want to deal with it, or they don't have the time to take off of work for a trial, take a moment to think "what if they're actually not guilty?".

Imagine yourself with a $20,000 a year income, living in a $700 a month apartment and only buying the store brands for whatever you eat. You have enough money to put gas in your tank to go to work and that's about it. You break even every paycheck, and don't have a savings at all. Now picture that you have been falsely accused of a crime. You have to sit in jail unless the judge is merciful enough to release you without bail, because you don't have $2000. If your lucky, you don't lose your job over the time you sit in jail and miss work. You have to get a public defender who is defending 30 other people that same day. You have to stand before a judge who has heard 30 cases almost identical to yours and will hear 30 more after you are done. All the public defender wants to do is get you to accept the plea deal. You want to fight the case, but the Public Defender tells you that it would be very hard to convince a jury without some kind of evidence supporting your side. You simply can't afford the gas to drive 50+ miles to court or the time off of work for all of the little hearings before the case is closed, so you accept the best plea deal you can get.

That really is the story for a lot of people. So with the legal system being that much of a nightmare, do you think I need to be suspicious to want to make sure that I don't get arrested for something I didn't do? Like it or not, as long as there is an assuption of guilt in the justice system, I am going to do everything I possibly can to stay away from a court room.

4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 10:20 AM
Wow that is pretty scary. No I am not suspicious. I have all the information of the seller. I have a bill of sale. But, I don't see any harm in bringing it to the poilce. Also I have an FFL who will do a Saiga conversion for me, the gun is in his possession now. Perhaps, he himself can do a check to see if the gun is legit. Yeah, I really don't think the gun is stolen; I would have not bought it if it was. I even told the seller I would see if I can check. Well, I pray to GOd i DON't go to jail. Buying a gun fro ma vendor is not illegal. I am afraid I would lose the gun. That would suck big time. Oh well, still having an illegal firearm in my possession is not something I want.

So, anyhow, any advice on the best way to check if the gun is stolen? I am going to contact my local FFL person who is a gunsmith tomorrow and see what he thinks or if he can do it. You know, I pray nothing is wrong, just like to be safe.

expvideo
February 4, 2009, 10:27 AM
So, anyhow, any advice on the best way to check if the gun is stolen? I am going to contact my local FFL person who is a gunsmith tomorrow and see what he thinks or if he can do it. You know, I pray nothing is wrong, just like to be safe.

The FFL won't be able to help you. What Jeff White said is the best advice you're going to get. He knows what he's talking about:

Take the weapon to your local law enforcement agency and ask them to run it through NCIC. There is a national database of stolen firearms, but it's not accessible by the public.

4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 10:32 AM
OK, I guess I will do that. I do have a trace on the person who sold it to me, so I am not concerned. But better safe than sorry. If I bring it to law enforcement office to have it checked, will they force me to register it? How long will it take them to see if it is stolen?

expvideo
February 4, 2009, 10:36 AM
OK, I guess I will do that. I do have a trace on the person who sold it to me, so I am not concerned. But better safe than sorry. If I bring it to law enforcement office to have it checked, will they force me to register it? How long will it take them to see if it is stolen?
There is no such thing as registration in Washington State. They will not force anything on you, and they should not hold it unless it is actually stolen or traced to a crime. You should be able to walk in and back out of the office with the rifle (in a case and unloaded with the bolt locked and ziptied, please) without any kind of hold or paperwork.

They do not keep a database of gun owners and serial numbers. Even if they wanted to, there is no such thing as registration in Washington.

Jeff White
February 4, 2009, 10:54 AM
I doubt it is as much suspicion as it is precaution. I would want to do the same with anything I didn't buy from an FFL, just to make sure I don't go to jail. I would suggest that you spend a day in court with someone who is actually not guilty of a crime, and see how well it turns out for them. I imagine that in your experience with law enforcement, you have probably not seen too much of court from the accused person's perspective. Next time you see someone going through the hassle of fighting for the best plea bargain because their public defender thinks they're guilty and doesn't want to deal with it, or they don't have the time to take off of work for a trial, take a moment to think "what if they're actually not guilty?".

I suppose that it possibly has happened somewhere, but I have never heard of anyone being charged with buying stolen property if the unknowingly bought it. In my experience the worst that will happen is that they will lose the money they had tired up in the property after the police recover it and return it to it's owner.

One afternoon many years ago I had stopped into a local gun shop while I was on duty and in uniform to check on a gun I had ordered. A woman came in who seemed very nervous and she got a big case of black and white fever when she saw me standing at the counter talking to the owner.

She had a rifle she wanted to sell. After some discussion over price the owner bought the rifle and the woman left cash in hand. Since she seemed so nervous I went to the door and got the license number of the car she got in. Then I got on the phone and ran the rifle through NCIC. It was clear and I chalked up her nervous actions to it maybe being a boyfriends or husbands rifle she had to sell to raise some cash. A couple weeks later our detective called me and said he had a message from a PD in the north central part of the state asking about the rifle. It seems that the rifle had been taken in a burglary and it hadn't yet been reported stolen when I ran it. When the other PD was entering the rifle in NCIC the inquiry I made on it popped up. Our detective went to the gun shop and recovered the rifle and the burglary was solved and the other PD arrested the woman and her boyfriend for burglary. No charges were filed against the gun shop owner. He was upset that he was out the money, but what could he do?

I can say that in 22 years I never saw someone who unknowingly bought stolen property charged for it.

Bubba613
February 4, 2009, 11:21 AM
Jeff White's advice was good.
If the gun is stolen, you will lose it. I have never seen anyone charged with selling a stolen gun. Last one I had the police had his name and phone number and he never heard from them. He's a regular customer of mine btw.
Stolen guns is a risk you take buying from a private individual. You want to avoid the risk, buy from an FFL. Same with selling.

expvideo
February 4, 2009, 11:29 AM
I can say that in 22 years I never saw someone who unknowingly bought stolen property charged for it.
It is unlikely that anyone would be charged for unknowingly buying stolen property. But these things do happen. Innocent people are charged with crimes. It is always better to be safe than sorry. I would gladly spend a small amount of time and money to ensure that I didn't have to spend more time and money later through the court system.

Just as a hypothetical, imagine that the woman and her boyfriend were innocent. What if they bought the gun from the thief unknowingly, then realized that it was a poor decision with rent coming up, so turned around and pawned it. Just imagine what they have to go through now, especially if they are poor like in my hypothetical, and can't afford to be taking time off of work and using gas going to trials.

Now I'm confident that this isn't the case, but let's imagine that it is for a moment. I just want to provide some perspective here. A lot of people end up with the assumption of guilt and put into a lose-lose situation in the courts where even if the best possible outcome of the trial is that they are not guilty, they are still broken financially, evicted and probably out of work because of it. To them, a quick plea deal is the only option, and now they have an undeserved criminal record.

It's not the way it is supposed to work. But it is what happens on an all too frequent basis.

Art Eatman
February 4, 2009, 11:59 AM
"The person seemed legimate and shared all his information with me, like driver license, etc."

If somebody is willing to do that, particularly through a sale from this website, I don't think I'd bother with further checking.

But if you're really concerned, follow Jeff's advice.

Skykomish
February 4, 2009, 01:34 PM
Call the Snohomish County Sheriff at (425) 388-3393 and ask them to run the Serial # through their database. Their database I believe covers the whole state, and is also NCIS linked.

I have done this in the past, and the lady did it in 2 minutes for me. I told her I was interested in buying a firearm from a private sale, but wanted to make sure it wasn't stolen. She asked the make/model/serial# and that was it.......

Easy ;)

Skykomish

Dokkalfar
February 4, 2009, 05:19 PM
No charges were filed against the gun shop owner. He was upset that he was out the money, but what could he do? after the case is solved (closed) is he not able to reclaim it? i know some of the local PDs have sales where they get rid of confiscated items, but if he legally (from his end) purchased it, shouldnt he have legal jurisdiction over ownership after it is no longer needed by the courts?

Duke of Doubt
February 4, 2009, 05:28 PM
Jeff, that dealer is not necessarily out the money.

For one thing, he may be insured against this eventuality.

But more likely, in many jurisdictions (including mine) he'll get restitution from the woman and the boyfriend ordered by the criminal court when they are sentenced. And if they refuse to pay within a reasonable time based on their income and so forth, around here their driver's licenses will be suspended and they'll be criminally charged with failure to pay restitution. In extreme cases the court will imprison them and let them work it off on jail rates (this rarely, rarely happens that way).

Duke of Doubt
February 4, 2009, 05:30 PM
Dokkalfar: "after the case is solved (closed) is he not able to reclaim it? i know some of the local PDs have sales where they get rid of confiscated items, but if he legally (from his end) purchased it, shouldnt he have legal jurisdiction over ownership after it is no longer needed by the courts?"

No, the rifle (in whatever condition) is returned to the burgled guy. Around here the dealer is better off with getting restitution.

Jeff White
February 4, 2009, 05:49 PM
after the case is solved (closed) is he not able to reclaim it? i know some of the local PDs have sales where they get rid of confiscated items, but if he legally (from his end) purchased it, shouldnt he have legal jurisdiction over ownership after it is no longer needed by the courts?

The original owner had the first claim to it. It was returned to him.

But more likely, in many jurisdictions (including mine) he'll get restitution from the woman and the boyfriend ordered by the criminal court when they are sentenced. And if they refuse to pay within a reasonable time based on their income and so forth, around here their driver's licenses will be suspended and they'll be criminally charged with failure to pay restitution. In extreme cases the court will imprison them and let them work it off on jail rates (this rarely, rarely happens that way).

They get restitution as part of their sentence here too. But all that happens is when they don't pay the judge issues a warrant and we pick them up and haul them into court, the court sets up a payment plan (again) and the process repeats itself. No suspension of DLs here and I've never heard of anyone getting prison time for failure to pay court ordered restitution. It's often years before restitution is paid off, if it's paid at all. In the mean time these types go repeatedly through the system.

4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 05:50 PM
Hi thanks for your suggestion Skykomish. I just called up Snohomish country sheriff. wheeww.. Yeah I gave him teh serial number. I hope I had the right serial number. The Saiga serial numbers are on the receiver or bottom part of gun right? Mine starts with 077 and is an eight digit number. Well, anyhow, I told the guy the serial number, at first he said I should contact another county where the seller resides, but then after explaining to him what you wrote he went ahead and looked it up. He said he couldn't find any problems about it, so I guess it is clean. Would my local sheriff's office do anything different than this guy?

One thing that annoymed me just a little is he asked me why I bought the gun if I thought it was stolen. I told him I didn't think the gun was stolen, I just have never buoght a gun from a person before without an FFL. Then he asked if it is legal for me to own a gun. I said if I was a criminal why would I call up the police department to see if my gun is stolen, I would just keep it and be quiet.

Oh well, besides some hassle, I am hoping that I have my answer now.

4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 06:04 PM
I was thinking perhaps the serial number might start with an H after I saw others, my gun is at the gun shop now, so I couldn't look at it. So, I called back a second time and gave him the H in the serial number, he still said it was clean.

ChromeLibrarian
February 4, 2009, 06:30 PM
I said if I was a criminal why would I call up the police department to see if my gun is stolen, I would just keep it and be quiet.

Bad answer. If I were the cop, my answer to that would be "because criminals do dumb things all the time." No sense ticking off a cop for no good reason. The best answer to a question like that is "Yes, it is."

user3214
February 4, 2009, 06:46 PM
There is no such thing as registration in Washington State. They will not force anything on you, and they should not hold it unless it is actually stolen or traced to a crime. You should be able to walk in and back out of the office with the rifle (in a case and unloaded with the bolt locked and ziptied, please) without any kind of hold or paperwork.

They do not keep a database of gun owners and serial numbers. Even if they wanted to, there is no such thing as registration in Washington.

I believe there is in WA. All handguns are registered if they go through a FFL with the serial # to you.
If it's FTF handgun sale you can register it to your name, but it's optional.

4Freedom
February 4, 2009, 07:11 PM
Bad answer. If I were the cop, my answer to that would be "because criminals do dumb things all the time." No sense ticking off a cop for no good reason. The best answer to a question like that is "Yes, it is."

Well, I don't think it was a bad answer. I also said it politely. What more can I say? I said I am legal and law abiding.

I was willing to sacrifice my $600 gun for the sake of honesty, I could have just kept it quiet and even sold it myself to some guy, it would not be hard to sell this gun. And I think 99999 out of 100000 criminals who steal guns or are committing a felony by owning an illegal firearm will not go call the police, give them their personal information and the serial number of their gun in their possession. If I was a criminal who had an illegal firearm, am I going to just go turn myself into the police? LOL

Travis Bickle
February 4, 2009, 07:37 PM
I just want for a piece of mind to make sure the gun I paid $600 for is not stolen and that I can get in trouble with the law.

It is not illegal in any state I'm aware of to receive stolen property in good faith. If the gun does turn out to be stolen, you won't be in any trouble, but the gun will probably be confiscated and you'll be out the money you paid for it.

If you buy guns off-paper, there's no way to completely eliminate the risk of getting stuck with a hot gun, but there are a couple simple things you can do to greatly reduce your risk:

First of all, do not buy a gun that is being offered at far below market value. In Arizona and many other states, it is a permissible inference for the court to make that if a piece of property was bought for far below market value, the purchaser knew or could have suspected that it was stolen.

Second of all, buy your off-paper guns thought the classifieds, not at gun shows. And if the person selling the gun insists upon meeting you somewhere or coming over to your house rather than meeting at his house, walk away from the deal. People who deal honestly don't care if anyone knows where they live and person would have to be a fool to fence stolen guns right out of his own house.

rscalzo
February 4, 2009, 07:48 PM
When running the check through NCIC, the sn along with a few other indentifiers are required. firearm serial numbers are not unique. You can get a hit on a sn without it being the firearm in question. The other identifiers are needed to determine the validity of the hit.

coloradokevin
February 5, 2009, 05:49 AM
I can say that in 22 years I never saw someone who unknowingly bought stolen property charged for it.

Same here, though I don't quite have 22 years on the job yet.

In fact, without actually looking up the legal text tonight (as I'm tired), I believe our statute specifically states that you must reasonably believe an item is stolen before you can be charged for receiving stolen property...

MAKster
February 5, 2009, 09:38 AM
Asking the police to run a gun through NCIC is almost worthless. Probably 90 percent of stolen guns are never reported. Even if it was reported it's unlikely the victim knew the serial number. All you are going to do is look suspicious to the police and they will likely seize the gun even if nothing appears in the datebase and start an investigation of you.

melikesguns
February 5, 2009, 02:36 PM
All you are going to do is look suspicious to the police and they will likely seize the gun even if nothing appears in the datebase and start an investigation of you.:rolleyes:

Please remove you tinfoil hat before posting.

expvideo
February 5, 2009, 03:13 PM
I believe there is in WA. All handguns are registered if they go through a FFL with the serial # to you.
If it's FTF handgun sale you can register it to your name, but it's optional.
No, you go through a NICS check and you have to fill out a form to purchase a handgun, but none of it is registration. I guarantee it. There is absolutely, positively no... such... thing as registration in WA state. I promise. But don't take my word for it. Call a few local gun shops and your local police department and ask them, if you are still convinced that I am wrong.

Asking the police to run a gun through NCIC is almost worthless. Probably 90 percent of stolen guns are never reported. Even if it was reported it's unlikely the victim knew the serial number. All you are going to do is look suspicious to the police and they will likely seize the gun even if nothing appears in the datebase and start an investigation of you.
They can't do that and they won't do that. Welcome to America.

user3214
February 5, 2009, 04:07 PM
Here it is:
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9.41.129

The department of licensing may keep copies or records of applications .....copies or records of applications to purchase pistols ....

Edit: Here is the form for private sales (voluntary) that would register the pistol to you
http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/652004.pdf
Buying through FFL - the resigtration is mandatory

MAKster
February 5, 2009, 04:08 PM
Maybe in some small towns where people know police officers by their first name it isn't an issue, but in most areas if you call the police and say you might be in possession of stolen property you are just opening yourself up to being the target of an investigation. They'll want to know why you have stolen property, who did you buy it from, they'll want to check all your other guns to see if they're stolen as well, are you involved in other illegal activities, why won't you let them search your house? Police follow leads as far as they can.

melikesguns
February 5, 2009, 04:17 PM
Around here, they only follow leads if a donut shop is nearby!!:neener:

MT GUNNY
February 5, 2009, 05:32 PM
Go to your Local Pawn shop and have them call in the Serial #

Or Call your self!

4Freedom
February 5, 2009, 06:57 PM
Maybe in some small towns where people know police officers by their first name it isn't an issue, but in most areas if you call the police and say you might be in possession of stolen property you are just opening yourself up to being the target of an investigation. They'll want to know why you have stolen property, who did you buy it from, they'll want to check all your other guns to see if they're stolen as well, are you involved in other illegal activities, why won't you let them search your house? Police follow leads as far as they can.


CRAP!!!!!!!! Are you serious? Well, its already to late I called them. Are you saying they are going to take my gun away? Why, what crime did I commit? How can they take something that was legally purchased? I won't let them take my gun without any probable cause, they can arrest me if they want. I bought the gun legally and if they have no proof its stolen, I will do all in my power to fight them legally to the end. I guess I didn't realize by being a good citizen, you would end up being screwed by the police, all this encourages is people to keep stolen guns.

Can anyone verify Maksters claim? Are they really going to try to take my gun? I just told them I bought it in a private sale and I wanted to be sure it was legitimate gun. I have no criminal record, I am legally eligable to own guns, every one of my guns was legally purchased through an FFL. I have the Driver License of the person who sold it to me. Why would they need to do an investigation, FOR WHAT??

rscalzo
February 5, 2009, 07:53 PM
Can anyone verify Maksters claim

Total BS. read the actual statute of Poss of Stolen Property. Apparent that this person didn't and has no idea of the operation of a police agency.

however it it turns out that the firearm (or any item) is found to be stolen, you are out of luck. You can't legally buy a stolen item and the original victim is entitled to the return of the article.

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