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UPDATED: Detectives raid Canyon Country video game store

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Posted: March 18, 2009 6:17 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Sheriff's Detective Geoff Elliott checks serial numbers for a stack of PS2 consoles after the Canyon Country Game World was raided for allegedly selling second-hand equipment without the proper paperwork.

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A Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station sting operation Wednesday snagged two owners of a Canyon Country video game store accused of dealing in stolen video games and gaming systems, a sheriff's official said.

Sheriff's detectives arrested Game World store owners Gary Owen, 58, of Canoga Park and Rodney Whitfield, 31, of Canyon Country on Wednesday morning.

Whitfield purchased a used video game system from an undercover agent without asking for identification or making the agent fill out required paperwork, Sgt. James Anderson said.

"Second-hand game stores essentially operate like pawn shops and fall under the same rules," Anderson said.

Second-hand video game stores must ask sellers to provide photo identification, submit a thumbprint and fill out paperwork to complete the sale. Game World did none of those things, Anderson said.

A recent string of residential burglaries tipped off sheriff's deputies that second-hand game stores might be dealing in stolen video games and gaming systems.

"There have been recent residential burglaries where the only things stolen were video games and game systems," Anderson said. "A transient on the street doesn't need a game system."

Retail stores also have been targeted by game thieves, Anderson said.

"We've had people steal games from Target and sell them in the (Valencia Town Center) in the same breath," he said.

"(The Sheriff's Station) wants to ensure that businesses are in compliance and don't aid in criminal activity," Sgt. Darren Harris said.
Deputies contacted six Santa Clarita Valley second-hand stores in February and told the owners they needed to show proof of a business license. "(Game World) never complied," Anderson said.

On Wednesday afternoon deputies gathered evidence from the store. "We've collected more than 180 video game systems. We will take these back to the station and log all the serial numbers," he said.

Sheriff's deputies want victims whose game systems were recently stolen to find the serial number and contact the Sheriff's Station at (661) 255-1121.

"If you don't know the serial number but the game system has an identifying mark, please contact us," Anderson said.

Owen and Whitfield are being held in lieu of $20,000 bail, Harris said.

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