LANESBOROUGH -- Selectmen shut down a Berkshire Mall pawn shop Monday in the wake of a Lanesborough Police Department investigation that found the business bought and withheld stolen jewelry from authorities.
Last Tuesday, the owners of a Baker Street home reported a break-in where up to $5,000 worth of jewelry was stolen.
The Gold Deposit, the mall pawn shop, must provide Lanesborough Police with transaction slips and photographs of all items purchased, according to a town bylaw.
The department had received none lately, but officers visited the store nonetheless to inquire about the stolen items early in the week.
Store operators Azim Azizov and Bahodur Akbarov, originally of Kazakhstan, denied ever seeing the items in question. Akbarov said "business was very slow," according to Lanesborough Police Investigator Timothy C. Sorrell's report.
Meanwhile, Pittsfield Police on Wednesday arrested city resident Nicholas Burke, 24, for trying to sell, at a pawn shop in the city, a ring that was reported stolen from the Lanesborough home on Baker Street.
After his arrest, Burke resolved to recover the other stolen articles, telling police his girlfriend sold the Gold Deposit five of the other pieces.
"Bells and whistles went off," Sorrell said in an interview Tuesday.
Burke visited the store but was denied by its two operators. He called Sorrell and was joined there by several Lanesborough Police officers.
"After continued questioning, [the store operators] finally gave in and said they had [the jewelry]," said John Goerlach, chairman of the Lanesborough Select Board.
Prior to this case, town police had investigated several others in which the store allegedly bought stolen jewelry, causing Selectmen to adopt the bylaw roughly six months ago, Sorrell said.
"There was probably other stolen stuff that was going through there that we weren't aware of; it just so happened that we had the inside knowledge this time," Sorrell said.
Selectmen unanimously agreed at a meeting Monday to revoke the Gold Deposit's license to operate.
"We adopted that bylaw for a reason; stuff like this can't happen," Goerlach said.
Pittsfield Police have charged Burke with one count of receiving stolen property. Lanesborough Police continue to investigate the break-in, but Sorrell said they plan to charge Burke with breaking and entering a building during the day and larceny from a building over $250.
Along with the five items sold to the Gold Deposit, Burke has recovered several other rings he allegedly stole from the Baker Street home.
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