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Game over: Used PlayStation turns out to be stolen

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
When Dustin Waller went on the Internet looking for online games for his new PlayStation, he had no idea police investigators were watching.
About a month after Waller’s fiancee got the PlayStation at 3-D Games in the Salisbury Mall, Statesville Police came knocking at Waller’s home in Cleveland.
Statesville Police Detective Scott Reed told Waller his PlayStation had been stolen in Statesville, and they wanted to know how he got it.
Not only that, the detective took the PlayStation without offering any way for Waller to get back his $350.
His fiancee, Christie Myers, bought the PlayStation 3 game console June 27 from 3-D Games in the mall as a gift for Waller. The store sells new and used merchandise.
The Cleveland resident works at Food Lion’s warehouse complex in Salisbury, but he recently had shoulder surgery after getting hurt at work. Doctors insisted he remain stationary for at least three months.
“My fiancee thought it would be a good gift for me,” he said.
Statesville Police Detective Scott Reed came to Waller’s Cleveland home Tuesday with Rowan County Sheriff’s deputies.
“He told me that the PlayStation was stolen, and he tracked me through the Internet,” Waller said.
When Myers brought the game console home, Waller hooked it up to the Internet so he could play a few games. PlayStation allows you to purchase games to play on the console, or you can play online.
When Waller signed on the Internet game, a login name appeared automatically. He said he thought it was a promotional account that came with the game.
“I’m new to PlayStation altogether. I thought it was an automatic name to sign on,” Waller said.
He played online several times, unknowingly using the original owner’s account. He said he was oblivious to the login since the PlayStation was blank of all memory.
Detective Reed told Waller he tracked the account using the computer’s IP address. Each computer connected to the Internet has a number known as an Internet Protocol address.
Statesville officials told Waller they obtained a search warrant from a judge, allowing them to get Waller’s records from his Internet provider, BellSouth.
Waller said detectives told him the department had been tracking a string of burglaries in the country club area since June. They hoped the thieves would use some of the stolen equipment on the Internet.
Contacted last week, Detective Reed told a Post reporter his department’s policy prevents him from speaking about the case.
The detective, Sgt. Brian McCoy, did not respond to a reporter’s phone message, and Statesville Assistant Police Chief Tom Anderson did not respond to phone or e-mail messages.
Waller said he knew the console was used, but never would’ve thought it was stolen.
No one from 3-D Games was available for comment. An employee said Thursday the store’s manager was out of town.
According to Myers, Waller’s fiancee, 3-D Games employees told her the PlayStation’s original owner bought it at Wal-Mart and grew tired of playing.
Detective Reed told Waller later that the man who sold the game console to 3-D Games is the suspect in the burglaries. But the Post could not determine if any charges have been filed.
Statesville officials did not charge Waller but confiscated the console.
Waller and Myers went back to 3-D Games to see if the store would return his money. Store personnel initially told him by phone they could not offer a refund.
But later, when he went to the store, employees gave him an Xbox 360.
Waller believes Detective Reed may have asked 3-D to offer him something.
Waller is appreciative of the offer from the store but notes the Xbox isn’t nearly as expensive or sophisticated as the PlayStation.
He’s still out about $150.
Plus, he said he’s just not had luck with Xbox consoles.
“I just want the public to be warned about this place,” Waller said.
He said he felt 3-D Games ó or any business that buys and sells used merchandise ó should have the same checks a pawn shop does when receiving merchandise.
Many pawn shops require employees to obtain a copy of a driver’s license or photo ID of the person selling merchandise.
Then, before selling the property to others, the pawn shops check serial numbers with local law enforcement to make sure they have not been stolen.
Salisbury Police Chief Mark Wilhelm said Statesville investigators did not contact his department about their investigation or ask Salisbury detectives to assist in the case. Wilhelm said his detectives are not investigating the matter.

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