"Every item, whether its a basketball goal, firearm, jewelry, any item that comes through a pawn shop has to be held," said Billy Sellers, store clerk at B&B Pawn Shop on Butternut Rd.
By law, they're required to hold those goods for 11 days before they can sell it out -- time enough for police to check if any theft reports come in matching it.
"So it helps us track those people that are involved in pawning of merchandise and it helps with the investigation as the investigation goes on," said Abilene Police Officer George Spindler.
Both police and pawn shops use a database to track items that come through the stores.
But if you don't realize something's been taken and file a report fast, you may be out of luck.
"If they're not contacted, the police department doesn't know, we don't know, and the item gets through the system," Sellers explained.
And if it gets through the system, your chances of getting it back drop drastically.
So the best way to protect yourself?
"They say pictures are worth a thousand words," Spindler said.
"You have to take photos of everything you own, always," Sellers agreed.
Every pawn shop we spoke with said it does happen -- stolen items are bought and then the shop loses out because the goods have to be given back.
But the bright side in that scenario is that the victim gets their prized possessions back..
"A pawn shop isn't a fencing place," said Sellers. "We don't fence stolen goods. It's just something that happens sometimes.
Another thing pawn shops require is a valid ID before you can sell them anything -- and they will not take anything with an engraving on it unless you can prove its yours.