As if there isn’t enough to put a crimp on holiday season shopping – between new COVID variants, low stock, slow shipping – folks buying resale need to take extra care. Remember those ‘smash & grab’ robberies from luxury store mall outlets? Definitely terrifying for those witnessing the events. The latest ‘flash robs’ perhaps deter future shoppers from in-person buying.
But the repercussions extend far beyond the day (or days) of the thefts. By all accounts, organized crime rings commit these robberies. And it’s doubtful the perpetrators were merely playing Santa (or Hannukah Harry or anyone else) for their own families. Rather, the goods likely will be sold for street value – what they get on the open (or not so open) market. Other items could be used as models to help fabricate counterfeits. Either way, it’s a season of buyer beware.
In other words, the hot Louis Vuitton items on your list, for example, may actually be hot- as in stolen. Expect those stolen luxury goods to find their way to reseller platforms, particularly those without stringent rules, regulations, and enforcement about authenticity and ownership. And yes, that just might include your favorite IG or back of the trunk sellers.
So, how do you protect yourself? One solution is, of course, to only buy from the retail outlet (or its own online store). The dilemma here is that in many boutiques the shelves are sparse, whether Louis Vuitton, Chanel, or Hermès. Items in stock may not be the ones you want. For example, that coveted Louis Vuitton Monogram Multi-Pochette Accessoires is not available on the website. And, although there are rumors abound about fake bags being sold from the toniest shops, in reality, that’s rarely (if ever) a problem.
So, if you must brave the resale market, this is the season to be especially careful. According to crime experts, stolen merchandise is easily sold on e-commerce platforms, as well as flea markets, pawn shops, and street vendors. As always, if the price is too good to be true, well, usually there is a reason.
What’s a buyer to do? For starters, find a source you really trust. Consider verified reliable resellers and those with guarantees and permitted returns. Many top resellers also ask for proof of purchase before taking a consignment, another barrier to stolen merchandise.
As of now, it’s unclear whether and to what extent the individual items recently stolen are traceable (that is, whether the brands are able to identify them). Moreover, secondary buyers usually are protected from liability. But, in this holiday season, do you really need an additional headache? We think not…
Updated: December 1st, 2021