UPDATED: Arrests Made In Canyon Country Video Game Store Raid
Co-owners booked on suspicion of felony charges; thousands of video games seized.
Game World, a store specializing in buying and selling used and new video games, was raided this afternoon after a successful sting operation earlier in the day.
Co-owners Gary Owen, 58, of Canoga Park and Rodney Whitfield, 31, of Canyon Country, were booked at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station on suspicion of receiving stolen property, a felony and misdemeanor violations of the Business and Professions Code. Each are being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
Sgt. Darren Harris said that undercover detectives went into the store on Camp Plenty Road with an X-Box game system that they sold to the clerk behind the counter. The clerk did not ask for identification from the seller or complete the paperwork required to prove that the game was not stolen and the raid was set up.
“The detectives here at the station have been notifying game stores in the area of the requirements of running a secondhand business,” Harris said. “It requires not only a business license, similar to a pawn shop, but they have to complete documents to avoid the resale of potential stolen properties.”
Harris said that all of the secondhand stores came into compliance after the notification, except Game World.
Owen has been an owner/operator of video game stores for close to 20 years and also runs a store in the San Fernando Valley and a booth at the Saugus Swap Meet. He told KHTS he got into the field of used video games after his daughter outgrew a Gameboy system and Owens saw a potential market for sales and exchange.
“Property is being taken as evidence until it can be proven who the rightful owners are,” Harris said. “This operation isn’t only being conducted to bring businesses into compliance, but also to ensure that we’re not creating areas that would aid criminals in the resale of stolen property. We’ve had several cases where items are stolen from a local store and within hours are resold at a game store.”
Detectives loaded boxes with thousands of games and several gaming units to be catalogued at the Santa Clarita Station. Harris said that additional property personnel from the Sheriff’s Logistics division would be working on the massive amount of evidence being removed from the premises.
If the evidence has documentation, it could be returned to the store; items that are not documented could be forfeited by the business.
“We want to make sure to send the message that we’re going to ensure that our businesses are in compliance with all laws so we don’t aid in burglaries or thefts from vehicles,” Harris said.