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Police can now seize stolen jewellery even when ‘unable to find a victim’

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Nottinghamshire Police have for the first time exercised their right to seize suspected stolen goods in a case where no victim had been identified.

Using special court powers, the force seized a gold watch and bracelet with a combined value of approximately £6,000 during a fraud investigation.

The watch and bracelet were were found in a Nottingham hotel room with 20 different bank cards and more than £6,000 in cash.

The haul was later made the subject of a listed assets forfeiture order, Nottinghamshire Police reported.

A 20-year-old man was arrested in September 2019 on suspicion of fraud and money laundering but could not be charged because no victim could be identified.

Financial investigator Stuart Rhodes turned instead to civil legislation that allows officers to seize jewellery, precious metals and gemstones – items often used to launder money.

Detective inspector Nikki Smith, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This was a frustrating case for officers because we were unable to find a victim, and without a victim we could not bring a successful prosecution.

“However, the investigation revealed that this young man had no discernible legitimate income despite being in possession a very large quantity of cash, high-value jewellery and multiple bank cards.

“We strongly believed these assets were obtained through unlawful activity and financial investigator Stuart Rhodes worked extremely hard to ensure they were recovered.

“All credit to him for being the first in our force to be successful in such a forfeiture application.

“Stuart built a solid case and because of the weight of evidence the suspect made no effort to contest our application.

“Stuart was then able to demonstrate to the magistrates that these items were purchased with the proceeds of the suspect’s unlawful conduct and successfully argued that he should be deprived of them.

“Obviously the court agreed and the jewellery will now be sold at auction and the profits added to the seized cash in order to support victims of crime.

“I have been a police officer long enough to know that that the one thing criminals really hate is not the loss of their liberty through prison sentences – it is the loss of money and the various other trappings of their criminality.

“So this was a great result for us and a bad result for the individual in question – even though he avoided a criminal conviction on this occasion.

“This was the first time we have used this legislation in this way and I can safely say it won’t be the last because it gives us another opportunity to take the benefit out of crime.”

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