Shoppers can now use a hi-tech database to check whether a product they are buying is stolen.
The CheckMEND system contains a ‘hot-list’ of 3.8 million stolen items, worth more than £570 million.
It will allow internet shoppers to check whether the goods they are buying from online auction sites have been reported stolen. It can also be used by anyone buying second-hand goods from a car boot sale, in the pub or from a street market.
The database contains details of a huge array of items, ranging from iPods and laptops to sat-nav systems and consumers can search it either on the internet, or by text message. A search costs £1.50 by text or between £1 and £2.99 online.
The most common items on the database are mobile phones and the database is able to tell within seconds whether any item has been reported stolen and, in the case of mobile phones, if the phone has been barred in the UK or re-programmed.
The system is linked to the databases of police forces, mobile phone companies and contents insurers and is added to, and updated, on a daily basis.
The system has been created by the IT company Recipero. Its Managing Director Adrian Portlock, said: ‘Due to the growing popularity of online auction sites, more and more people are now buying and selling goods ‘second hand’.
‘It has created a world where the buyer rarely sees the seller’s face. This has been an ideal scenario for criminals, who can sell stolen goods without being identified. CheckMEND will give the buyer piece of mind that they are buying a legitimate product.’