Have you ever been offered the sale of goods that were just “found” by the seller? Maybe when you asked about the origins of the goods, or how the person came into possession of them, you were answered with a sly smile and told they “fell off the back of a truck”. While it might seem like a stroke of luck to be there at the right time in order to take advantage of these “bargain” items—it’s more likely that the law is being broken. Many people will be surprised to learn that receiving these types of goods is in fact illegal.
It seems like a harmless thing, buying some cheap goods that mysteriously turned up. The lawyers opine that after all, you don’t know where they came from, so how can you be culpable if there was any crime committed? There are many different aspects to this offence, so there’s no need to become suspicious of every single item that you see for private sale.
Technically, it is an offence to receive stolen property if you are aware that they were actually stolen. There is absolutely no question about what this is, and no grey area to think about. If you’d like to get technical and see the actual offence guidelines, taken from the Criminal Code 1899 of Queensland, here they are:
“A person who receives tainted property, and has reason to believe it is tainted property, commits a crime.”
Generally, someone is not considered guilty if they received goods and had no idea they were stolen, but found out later that they were actually stolen. Even if you were not directly told that the goods were stolen, it is still possible for the courts to deduce that you must have known, due to the circumstances surrounding the transferal of the goods. “Playing dumb” is not going to be good enough to avoid the law, when it’s clear that you should have known the goods were stolen. Plenty of people have already tried this type of defence in the past, and the court is well versed in dealing with such strategies from defendants.
Whether or not you actually committed a crime, or had anything at all to do with stealing goods, you can end up in hot water by accepting stolen goods from someone, whether free of charge, or by buying them. The fact is that you are knowingly contributing to a theft, and taking something that does not belong to you.