To buy or not to buy? When you deal with second hand items, sometimes you purchase things which you would prefer to not have to deal with. Last Night, a message was left on the store's voicemail, a fellow had Tefillin for sale. Returning the call at 11am, I asked the man on the phone to bring them in to the store so I can inspect them. Within a half hour a young man, in full religious garb showed up with a briefcase with 8 pairs of tefillin, looking mostly rather new.
The tefillin were said to be from a Yeshiva for Baale Teshuva, and these were tefillin of people who moved on or passed on leaving the tefillin behind in the Yeshiva. The Yeshiva has decided to sell them and use the money for books.
Slightly suspicious, I figured it will be best to buy them either way, lest we lose all trace of it and purchased the 8 pairs from the young man. Upon inspecting the tefillin bags, I noticed one had a name, and after googling the name, it came up as a gabbai of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. I left a message with Rabbi Pinto's Yeshiva for the named man to contact me, within 10 minutes they discovered that 8 pairs were indeed missing from the synagogue he prayed in that morning, Shuva Yisrael in Brooklyn.
Turns out that the thief, which they immediately identified from the security cameras in my store, prayed with them regularly and they knew him well. A heavy drug addict, his need for money made him trade in their tefillin for some cash. Luckily the tefillin were reunited with their owners within 2 hours after they were stolen, but it can very nearly not have ended this way. If only the thief had thought for a moment, he would have removed the tefillin from the bags and no one would have ever known. Thankfully he didn't, and the tefillin are back with their owners and Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto has one less thing to worry about.
As much as we don't like to hear it, synagogues are not safe deposit boxes and we need to start taking extra precautions with security in our synagogues, so things like this aren't begging to happen.
Here is a still from the store security cameras showing the thief giving a last glance at the room after counting his cash