Back in the day, if someone broke into your house, there was a chance you'd get some of your stuff back.
"Things used to be pawned locally," Safety Director Charles Goss said. "We could run down to Cleveland and look for stolen items."
Now? Good luck.
While true pawn shops are still pretty rare, other businesses have entered the jewelry-buying arena, giving criminals that many more places to sell their goods.
Jewelry is often targeted by burglars because it's both easy to carry and valuable.
"Now, jewelry stores buy gold and used items," Detective Lt. John Janowski said. "And there are so many places paying cash for gold. It's become hard to track anything down."
Looking High and Low
That doesn't mean Strongsville police have given up the hunt. They regularly touch base with jewelers, cash-for-gold businesses and pawn shops to see if items stolen from homes or cars here have come in.
"It's time consuming," Goss acknowledged. "But we still do it. I see the stacks of faxes that come in from the different businesses when we put out a request."
It's reached a point where police here want the state to start a registry of used-goods dealers so they have a better database of where to look for stolen property.
"We've asked about it, but nothing's happened yet," Janowski said.
And It Gets Worse
Add the Internet to the mix and it becomes a huge challenge to track down fenced merchandise.
"With the birth of Internet trade, it got harder for us," Goss said. "Things can be sold to India as easly as to someone in Ohio."
But trying to monitor online sales is a needle-in-a-haystack search.
"At least with local shops, we're in the business of knowing all the businesses that buy and sell," Goss said. "The difficult part is trying to police national trade."