Oral Replies to Parliamentary Questions

Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Reports from Theft Victims of Their Belongings Being Sold in Secondhand Shops and Pawn Shops, by Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

Published: 27 July 2021


Ms Yeo Wan Ling:
To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the last 12 months, whether there has been an increase in reports from theft victims of their belongings being sold in secondhand shops and pawn shops; (b) whether there are regulations imposed on secondhand shops and pawn shops on checks needed when accepting these items brought to them, and (c) what is the recourse for victims in claiming back these items when the items are proven to be stolen.


1.   MHA does not track the number of reports from theft victims of their belongings being sold in secondhand shops or pawnshops.

2.   Secondhand goods dealers and pawnbrokers today are regulated under the Secondhand Goods Dealers Act (SHGDA) and the Pawnbrokers Act (PBA) respectively, unless they meet certain exemption criteria or are granted a waiver.

3.   Under these regimes, they are required to take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves that the goods that they transact in are not stolen or obtained through fraudulent or dishonest means. These include verifying the identity of the person selling or pawning the item and screening the goods against information furnished by the Police.

4.   In the event that any item is found to have been reported lost or stolen, the secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers are expected to detain the item and make a police report without undue delay. Victims who find their belongings being sold in secondhand shops or pawnshops should also make a police report.

5.   Upon receipt of a police report, Police will then look into the potential criminal offences disclosed, and seize the item if necessary. Upon the conclusion of investigations, Police will seek an order from the Court to return the item to the victim. If there is more than one claimant, a disposal inquiry may have to be convened for the Court to determine which claimant is legally entitled to the item.