LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- They're sometimes called a drug addict's best friend; Pawn shops, where anything of value can be converted to cash in a matter of minutes.
WHAS11’s Investigative Reporter Adam Walser spoke with a serial burglar who says the stores helped fuel his drug habit for years by giving him money for stolen goods... No questions asked.
“It was scary to pull into the garage and realize the doors to the house were open,” said Kathy Samson.
Her sense of security was shattered when Chris Meadors broke into her Spencer County home last year, taking DVDs, credit cards and priceless family heirlooms.
“We knew some of our property ended up in a pawn shop because he had also used our credit card at a pawn shop,” Kathy Samson said.
Police found the property at Mr.Money on Taylorsville Road.
Detectives arrested Meadors, who used his own ID card to pawn a diamond anniversary ring and Samson's grandfather's mason ring.
Detectives also put what's called a "hold" on the property so that the items couldn't be sold and would be returned to the Samsons after the trial.
“They sold the diamond ring and my Paw-Paw's ring, which they didn't think they could get anything out of, they melted it,” she said.
“I should have bought them back myself, to protect our interests. It's a shame that you have to do that,” said Paul Samson, Kathy’s husband.
That same store accepted Paul Samson's credit card from Meadors.
“He even signed my husband's name,” said Kathy Samson. “He even paid off a balance.”
Meadors, who says he became addicted to painkillers after an accident, faces 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the Samson's burglary and other Spencer County charges.
He also has several pending cases in Jefferson County.
Meadors says pawn shops enabled him to continue his addiction.
“It's usually the easiest, the quickest most reliable way for someone like me to get money,” said Meadors.
“These pawn shops are the enablers here. They're giving the criminals the avenue to unload their products. They're glorified fences, only they're not operating businesses out of the trunks of their vehicles. They're operating out in the open. Right here for the public to see,” said Paul Samson.
Pawn shops are required by law to regularly provide police logs of items taken in on pawn and must get fingerprints from and copy the photo ID's of those pawning items.
Meadors says that was case when he used Samson's stolen credit card.
“She actually did ask me why my name didn't match the name on the credit card. I told her it was my stepfather's and she let me use it anyway. That was the extent of questioning,” Meadors said.
We tried to talk to Mr. Money about buying the stolen goods, accepting the stolen credit card and selling the rings put on police hold.
Employees referred us to their corporate headquarters in Colorado, where a spokesperson told us they were not aware of the incidents.
They also said the Louisville Mr. Money stores had a different owner at the time.
Meadors says while he was out on bond for the Samson's burglary he returned to the same store with other stolen items.
“The same woman who I used the credit card with processed my pawn that I was doing at the time,” said Meadors.
Despite good police work which found the stolen items in days, the Samsons say the system failed them.
A problems other victims will likely face, as long as stores are willing to buy anything of value for pennies on the dollar, no questions asked.
“I've never been turned away,” said Meadors. “I've probably been to every store in Louisville. I've never been turned away.”
“Its may not be a lot of money, but it's not their things. They don't care. They just need the quick cash for drugs, so if the pawn shops quit buying these items, the problem may get better,” said Kathy Samson.
Local pawn shops tell us that people are more likely to get stolen property back because if it is taken to a pawn shop, since pawn shop transactions generate records of property descriptions, serial numbers and exactly who pawned the items.
Each month, these records help police arrest dozens of suspects.
And in most cases, stolen items are returned to victims.