Alleged fencing operation in Lawndale raided

February 18, 2011 3:18:44 PM PST
Police from Abington and Philadelphia raided a Lawndale pawn shop on Friday morning, believing it is a major fencing exchange for stolen jewelry and rare metals.

They've spent the day inside gathering evidence. Police turned shop owner Robert Snyder away when he first arrived.

The break in the case began last October when police locked up two Abington burglary suspects following a high-speed chase and crash on Rhawn Street in the city.

One of those arrested, John Wilson, is described by police as a career criminal. He allegedly told them that Lawndale Coin and Collectibles is the fence he used to unload loot from 55 burglaries in the Northeast, Abington and Lower Moreland.

That may be only the tip of the iceberg.

"We believe there are a number of other people who have brought stolen property to this location besides those we are aware of," said Deputy Chief John Livingood of the Abington Police.

Snyder has run the business on Rising Sun for at least 30 years. He returned in the early afternoon, with his lawyer, as the police inventory continues. He has not been arrested.

"He has run a legitimate business here for the past 31 years, has no involvement with law enforcement at all and, really, is quite stunned," said Snyder's lawyer, John Connor.

"I had some dealings with him. Everything was always above-board with Bob Snyder. Anytime something was questionable Bob would ask you where you got something from," said "Jim," a long time customer who did not want to give his full name.

Police have a far different view of Robert Snyder. They think he may have been fencing for burglary rings all over the tri-state area.

"There's a possibility that there is a lot of stolen property here and that property could have come from burglaries and thefts in a wide-ranging area," said Livingood.

As police carried out boxload after boxload of evidence, they said they'll soon display the allegedly ill-gotten gains so burglary victims can try to reclaim their stolen valuables.