Arrest Of Barstow Store Owner On Fencing Charge Questioned

(October 14)  The arrest of the proprietor of Barstow’s  Downtown Market last week has triggered questions over the propriety of the action taken against him.
On October 8, detectives with the Barstow Police Department, accompanied by uniformed officers, served a search warrant at Downtown Market, located at 219 E. Main Street. That search warrant was apparently based upon a tip that the owner of the establishment, Omar Snoubar, had purchased some electronic items taken in a residential burglary in the 1400 block of Sage Drive on August 20 as well as well as two laptops that were shoplifted by  Andrew Paul Staggs and Carol Lin Crunk from Walmart on August 28.
During the October 8 search, police found what they believe to be the items stolen from the Sage Drive residence, a television and a computer. Snoubar handed the laptops over to police in September after Staggs and Crunk were arrested on September 15 and informed detectives they had sold them to Snoubar.
Snoubar was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property. Barstow police have alleged that Downtown Market was being operated as an illegal pawn shop.
Indeed, Snoubar, by either purchasing for resale or allowing his customers to hock merchandise, appears to have run afoul of California’s Business and Professions Code by operating a secondhand dealership without a license. Pawn shops are required to be licensed through the State of California, Department of Justice and the city.
Nevertheless, a number of people in Barstow, including Snoubar’s customers, employees, former employees and fellow merchants are questioning whether Snoubar had the requisite intent to be acting as a “fence” of stolen property, as police implied in the arrest of him.
Snoubar’s transgression in violating the Business and Professions Code, which his supporters insist was done out of ignorance, does not amount to the crime of theft, several said. They said any enforcement action against him should have been handled by the city’s code enforcement division or city attorney and that legal action should have been done through a civil process rather than a criminal one.
The licensing and registration requirements applicable to pawn shops, together with reporting protocols for the purchase or pawning of items and attendant arrangements for insurance and bonding of the operation is intended to allow law enforcement to monitor the merchandise being channeled through such establishments and check it against the roster of items reported stolen locally.
Snoubar posted bail on October 9. The district attorney’s office has not yet charged him with any crime. The police department has acknowledged that its investigation into the matter is yet ongoing.

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