Stolen merchandise is piled up at the Safeway Distribution Center, the result of the Auburn Police Department’s multi-jurisdictional investigation into a pawn shop scheme. (Photo courtesy of Auburn Police Department)

Stolen merchandise is piled up at the Safeway Distribution Center, the result of the Auburn Police Department’s multi-jurisdictional investigation into a pawn shop scheme. (Photo courtesy of Auburn Police Department)

Police recover millions of dollars in stolen property after thrift shop scheme

Pictures and videos from inside the Safeway Distribution Center show boxes and boxes of stolen merchandise — a printer, a home theater audio system, tools, a handbag, cosmetics.

A man wheels a cart with a tall stack of boxes held together with plastic wrap. Men and women search through the piles of items.

Businesses have arrived at the distribution center to sort through the stolen products.

After several years, the Auburn Police Department has closed a multi-jurisdictional investigation into a pawn shop scheme.

The Auburn-led investigation resulted in the recovery and return of “millions of dollars worth of stolen property … to their rightful owners,” according to the department’s social media post.

The Auburn police and distribution center coordinated the return of items on March 9 and March 10, following the adjudication of the case, according to the department.

The U.S. District Court in Seattle sentenced Aleksandr Pavlovskiy to six years in prison and 15 years of supervised release for trafficking in stolen goods and possession of child pornography after Pavlovskiy pleaded guilty to charges in October 2021.

At Pavlovskiy’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour said the “stunning amount of stolen material” served as a factor in Pavlovskiy’s sentence.

According to the release, Pavlovskiy ran two pawn shops — Thrift Electro in Renton and Innovation Best in Kent — between 2013 and 2016. Following Pavlovskiy’s direction, employees purchased stolen retail goods from shoplifters and delivery drivers for online retailers, paying cash for the items.

After establishing a warehouse in Kent for the storage and repackaging of stolen products for sale on eBay and Amazon in 2016, Pavlovskiy and his employees shipped hundreds of thousands of stolen items nationwide, according to police. The business generated between $1.5 million and $3.5 million in revenue between January 2017 and July 2019.

The Auburn Police Department and FBI served search warrants on Pavlovskiy’s home, vehicles and business locations in July 2019, after beginning investigation in the summer of 2018, according to the release. In addition to the documentation of stolen products, forensic analysis also discovered more than 20,000 images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Darren Jones, owner of the AgriShop Ace Hardware in Auburn, said he’s worked with Auburn police in regards to pawn shops reselling stolen property for years. Jones said the AgriShop helped the Auburn Police Department run serial numbers on stolen steel that had been sold in pawn shops for several years in order to return the material back to the originating companies.

In addition, Auburn detectives have discovered steel power equipment sold in pawn shops that matched the AgriShop’s serial numbers, Jones said. Jones managed to recover the stolen property as a result.

“By law, they’re supposed to run those serial numbers before they take it in,” Jones said. “They hadn’t been and they’d gotten lax on it.”

After hearing of the investigation, Jones said he also wanted to head down to the distribution center to try and find any potential stolen property.

The Auburn Police Department thanked Fred Meyer Loss and Prevention, Home Depot, Lowe’s and various businesses for playing an “instrumental [role] in the recovery of these stolen items.”

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