TULSA - Add a bad economy to the skyrocketing price of gold, and many people are checking their jewelry boxes for old chains and rings to sell.
2News found pawning is big business these days.
"There are people out there who say I need money," said Mike Anderson, co-owner of Tulsa Gold and Silver.
He often hears customers say, "I need $100 to buy something or pay my electric bill."
Whatever the reason to sell, Anderson says there is a gold rush. But Tulsa police warn citizens that burglars know it, too.
"What we're concerned about more is, 'I go to your room, steal your gold and I take it to a place that's not registered. Then no one knows about it,' and then it's gone," said Cpl. Gene Watkins, Tulsa police burglary detective.
Tulsa police told 2News one south Tulsa business bought $80,000 worth of stolen property from a minor and sold it the next day instead of holding the items for the required ten days.
The Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit shut it down for allegedly operating without a license.
"Our object is to get more property back and get more people who are stealing items," Watkins said.
He says pawn and gold buying stores send police their sales reports each week.
The reports come in by the hundreds, usually handwritten with very simple descriptions.
Police find it difficult to match the detailed description written by a distraught owner with the simple "14K ring" listed in store reports.
"Then volunteers have to enter it all by hand into the computer. Even if we get a match, the chances of us finding it within ten days? So, that stuff's gone," Watkins said.
At issue is the fact that Oklahoma's reporting law dates back to 1972. There is no mention of computers or electronic files or email communication.
Tulsa police are now working with city and state lawmakers to get the law updated to require stores to email sales reports for faster matches to stolen property.
Their goal is to reunite citizens with their stolen property.
"It's the stuff that's sentimental to people that they want back," Watkins said.
When you have something to sell, experts suggest finding an established firm.
Also, be sure the store is licensed to buy precious metals.
"And you not only have a license for the business," Anderson said. "But each of the employees has a license that they have to have - and again they get updated every year."
Walk into Mike Anderson's gold and silver buying store, and you had better be 18.
"And they have to have a driver's license or a photo identification or they can't sell it!"
Tulsa police say businesses like this one not only follow the law, they also help support it by enforcing the rules when customers walk in the door.
"If they know that they have to give an ID, and they've got to sign for it, that sort of tends to make someone go somewhere else," Anderson said.
Other advice for selling gold: Don't settle, search for the best deal. And make sure you really want to sell, not pawn.
"There's two different ways to do it. You can pawn it -- pay back a certain amount of price you get that ring back. And, of course, you sell it. That's it," Watkins said. "You're never going to get that ring back."
That's because most stores melt the gold.
By the way, if you do decide to sell some family heirloom, be ready for possible surprises.
"I remember a lady coming in with this humongous silver tray," Anderson said. "It was in the family for decades -- and it wasn't silver. I thought she was going to come across the table at me!"
When you decide to sell, Anderson recommends checking the price of gold daily.
Are you looking to sell some of your gold? Check out our special section Selling Gold to find out how you can get more for your gold.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Also in the headlines
One person is dead and another injured after an early morning fire in northeast Tulsa