The Xchange Cash and Trade pawn shop at the intersection of Osborne Road and Central Avenue. (Photo by Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE – With the help of three retail giants, police raided a Central Avenue pawn shop on Thursday, Oct. 5, and shut down what they are calling the “primary receiver of stolen property in our town.”
The investigation began in April, said Lt. Robert Winn, and investigators interviewed shoplifters, burglars and drug users who all said they were selling stolen property at the Xchange Cash and Trade at the corner of Osborne Road and Central Avenue.
Police then provided undercover operatives with what appeared to be stolen property – some even had security tags still on them thanks to Home Depot, Target and WalMart – and/or made it known to the owners the items were just stolen.
The company’s website boasts “We buy almost anything” and Winn said there were items as large as generators to things as small as jewelry and electronic smart switches that control lights or thermometers with a cell phone.
There is no regulation covering pawn shops in Colonie like there is in the City of Albany. But, owners of pawn shops are not supposed to knowingly deal with stolen property. The allegations
are that the owners – 57-year-old Gregory A. Fanos, of Oakwood Drive West and 26-year-old Evangelos G. fanos of 1 Laurandale St. – knew what they were buying and selling was stolen.
“We had operatives go in with merchandise that still had the security devices on it and they were told to leave the store. Our operatives would go out in the parking lot, cut the device off, go back in and they would buy it,” Winn said. “In one case, one person told us that he went in with an item that still had a security device on it and they gave him a tool to cut the device off.”
Winn said the store first came on his radar more than two years ago when a suspect in the murder of barber Jacquelyn Porreca sold stolen jewelry at the store. Sean Moreland was convicted of that crime and is serving eight years in prison.
The two Fanos were charged with attempted possession of stolen property and sent to the Albany County jail. They have since made the $15,000 bail.
Winn said the investigation is continuing and more charges are possible. The federal government could get involved, he said, if the two attempted to sell stolen property across state lines via the internet. He said when the younger Fanos was arrested he had a number of packages ready to mail and investigators are waiting on a search warrant so they, and investigators from the U.S. Postal Service, can open them up.
A search warrant was executed at the store and the Oakwood Drive West home of the elder Fanos and more charges could be levied depending on what information is gathered from the two locations.
Loss prevention officials at the three retailers not only provided merchandise to Colonie police to sell to the pawn shop, they also provided cash so stolen items could be purchased and the technical expertise of dealing with similar cases of stolen merchandise throughout the U.S.
“We received an amazing amount of cooperation from the three stores. We have worked with their local loss prevention all the time but we had not worked with the corporate level,” he said. “In this case it was a successful partnership.”