Crime 'ring' reportedly hits local pawn shops

A local couple are suspected of ripping off several Medford pawn shops through a bait-and-switch scam involving high-end rings.

Medford police were alerted to the scam when several pawn shop workers contacted each other upon noticing that they were missing expensive rings from their jewelry cases.

In all of the instances, the original rings were replaced with cheap replacements containing fake diamonds, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said.

"We believe they hit most of the local pawn shops," Budreau said. "This involved thousands of dollars in rings."

Budreau declined to release the suspects' names, however, because the case still is developing. The couple have yet to be charged with the crimes.

The duo allegedly posed as an engaged couple looking to purchase wedding rings. They would ask the pawn shop clerk to show them various rings.

Then one of them would distract the clerk while the other would slip a fake ring back into the case. They would pocket the original ring and exit the shop.

"We believe they scoped out the pawn shop before entering so they knew to buy a fake ring that resembled a valuable ring in the case," Budreau said.

The couple went so far as to create a fake price tag to attach to the fake ring.

Daven Marasco, who works at Medford Pawn and Jewelry Inc. on South Central Avenue, said the couple struck his business.

"They got a platinum diamond ring," he said. "It was worth several thousand dollars."

Marasco was alerted to the scam when another pawn shop called to say it had lost a ring to the couple.

Marasco said pawn shop workers are a tight-knit community that watches each others' backs. "If you hear about something like this you call other shops," he said.

Budreau said his department has a good relationship with local pawn shops. The shops enter their inventories into a database detectives can access to search for stolen property.

"Pawn shops can be targets of scams like this ring case, but mostly they are used to unload stolen property," Budreau said.

The primary hit to pawn shop business is stolen property that enters their stores. Once police come to collect stolen property at a shop, the owner is out the money of the sale.

However, many pawn shop employees have become adept at spotting hot items such as electronics and jewelry, Budreau said.

"Pawn shops are usually street savvy people," he said. "It's hard to get something over on them most of the time."

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