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Thread: Serial Number Removed

  1. #1

    Default Serial Number Removed

    With a grinder, on a perfectly nice Big B. Should I just ignore the fact that it might be stolen, or give it a good home? And yes, of the remaining saxes that were not stolen, I now have serial numbers and photo records. Be careful, my friends, when you move to the big city.

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member Carl H.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    If the serial # is removed, it is illegal to own. I have passed on many a great instrument at a good price because of this.
    So far, this is the oldest I've been.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    just think about it: anybody who got an instrument of that make and series stolen and has had that recorded by the police, can claim it to be their property

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Walk away from it and don't be part of the crowd who support such conduct. Knowing that serial-numbered property with the serial number removed is contraband would bring you inside the criminal loop. DAVE
    Dave

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member Carl H.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    So far, this is the oldest I've been.

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Great stuff, Carl!! Jack Webb is STILL a revered name in the LAPD. DAVE
    Dave

  7. #7

    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Hey Carl - Where does it say that it is "illegal" to own a horn with the serial number obliterated? Is this a statute of some state(s)? A federal statute? common law? case law? I have never heard of such a thing but would appreciate it (I'm sure everyone would) if you would specifically identify this "law" for us so that we can research it an see exactly what it says.

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    I think that owning a horn with the serial number scratched off is legal. I don't think that I would get in any trouble if I scratched the serial number off of my horn. I think it is only illegal to own it if it is stolen property. If there is no way that you can find out whether it is stolen or not, I wouldn't buy it, because it is illegal to buy stolen property.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member Carl H.'s Avatar
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    So far, this is the oldest I've been.

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    Forum Contributor 2011 Steve Stockham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    It would appear that nearly half the states have some statute about the sale, disposal and/or posession of an item with the serial number deliberately obscured. Actually, finding out the serial number from a sax that has had it's number removed through filing, buffing, etc... is rather easy. There is this stuff called by different names that is sold as a "coin date restorer." Many coin and stamp shops carry this stuff (or at least used to.) The idea was that you could put a couple of drops of this "Coin-X" (or whatever) and it would bring up an image of the date from a worn down coin (Buffalo nickels were the main coin that this was used for.) All it is really is an acid that eats away a bit of the surrounding metal and reveals a "phantom" image. For coins, it's a gimmick as altering the surface is a big no-no and any coin that is so worn that the date is gone isn't worth much anyway but finding out the serial number of a possibly (or probably) stolen saxophone? That it will do nicely!

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    I stand corrected.

    It's legal in my state, though.

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Nice stuff Carl H. Looks like Colorado is out...Now, not trying to appear shady, but who the hell is gonna know if your saxophone's serial number is gone? I mean isn't this kind of like one of those laws like in Denver you can't let your neighbor borrow your vacuum, or in Louisiana you can't tie a giraffe to a light pole, or in Detroit you "can" kill somebody if you tell them 24 hours in advance.

    Like, with the exception of the last one, who's going to know? Seems just as silly as the other laws except for in the case of a vehicle or a weapon.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Thanks. I did a quick review of the statutes in the "Google Answers" site, they are all over the lot in terms of meaning and application but it seems that about 20 expressly prohibit the act of obliterating or changing the identifying markings, only perhaps 15 or so prohibit mere possession but of these, several require actual intent to deceive or intent to sell. Some make possession a (rebuttable) presumption of intent to deceive. Some excuse possession if the possessor reports the item to the police. Still others only prohibit the sale of such items. About 29 states in all. Obviously having a horn with the numbers removed is a potential problem, even if it isn't illegal in your state you may have problems when you try to sell it. Good stuff to know about.

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    It has been my experience that most states have similar laws, even though they may be coded differently, and written differently. An item with an obliterated serial number is pretty obvious because of the surface differences. So lets say you are driving along and commit some traffic infraction and you are stopped. The officer sees the item (in this case, a saxophone) or has cause to see it. When he sees the obliterated serial number space, you have some explaining to do. In California it will almost always result in an arrest for RSP (receiving stolen property), a felony. Even though your state may not have a specific statute, a probable-cause arrest for some felony (theft, burglary, RSP?) may result.

    Will the case be filed by the prosecutor? Maybe, maybe not, but in the meantime, you've been booked and held until arraignment or a DA Reject is issued (or released on bail, an expensive proposition in itself, to say nothing about attorney's fees, embarrassment, and time away from family/work while things are sorted out). And, your saxophone will be seized and not returned.

    Does this actually happen? Oh yes. I've done it and seen it many times. It is called good police work - and it isn't like some municipal code for tying a giraffe to a light pole. I can't begin to list all the cases I've done and seen that began with a casual inquiry.

    And yes, obliterated serial numbers can be raised. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    So a heavily buffed re-lacquered sax that has had almost all its engraving removed including its serial number is illegal. Non-sense. Now add to this that serial numbers are often not reported on ebay adds. And not shown on ebay photos. So you wouldn't know until the item arrives that the serail number has been obliterated. Plus.... how do you know where the serial number is or was on vintage saxophones?

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    I don't really care if you believe it or not. That's the way it is. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where a serial number has been obliterated. Take your chances . . . DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    It has been my experience that most states have similar laws, even though they may be coded differently, and written differently. An item with an obliterated serial number is pretty obvious because of the surface differences. So lets say you are driving along and commit some traffic infraction and you are stopped. The officer sees the item (in this case, a saxophone) or has cause to see it. When he sees the obliterated serial number space, you have some explaining to do. In California it will almost always result in an arrest for RSP (receiving stolen property), a felony. Even though your state may not have a specific statute, a probable-cause arrest for some felony (theft, burglary, RSP?) may result.

    Will the case be filed by the prosecutor? Maybe, maybe not, but in the meantime, you've been booked and held until arraignment or a DA Reject is issued (or released on bail, an expensive proposition in itself, to say nothing about attorney's fees, embarrassment, and time away from family/work while things are sorted out). And, your saxophone will be seized and not returned.

    Does this actually happen? Oh yes. I've done it and seen it many times. It is called good police work - and it isn't like some municipal code for tying a giraffe to a light pole. I can't begin to list all the cases I've done and seen that began with a casual inquiry.

    And yes, obliterated serial numbers can be raised. DAVE
    A sax in a car is going to be in a case. How would you justify, opening the sax case to give you an opportunity to see an obliterated serial number? I have an expectation that police officers swear an oath to uphold and protect the constitution of the united states and this includes the bill of rights. So making up an excuse to search a closed saxophone case for a traffic violation seems to be a clearly unwarranted search.

    "Sir, you ran a stop sign.... now open up your saxophone case and let me see its serial number!"

    Would you really want to stand behind this in court?

  18. #18
    Distinguished SOTW Member Carl H.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Do you really want to fight this here? With a group of saxplayers? Where one of our most respected members is LAPD???

    Dave has been there and done that. He has gone into court.

    What is your experience in these sort of matters?
    So far, this is the oldest I've been.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Fred: You can parse this any way you want to - each case stands on its own. I could bore you for days about how my own arrests and cases developed - the silliest things have led to seizures, property recoveries, and arrests, and many filings, hearings, trials, testimony, etc. And many times a simple request to see what's inside the case would be granted by a suspect.

    And maybe the horn ISN'T in a case? Or for some reason the car is impounded, or the case opens by mistake. Or, an officer comes to your house for official business of one sort or another and sees the horn on a rack in plain sight. I mean, the varying circumstances are countless.

    A good cop reads his/her suspect and/or the situation and does everything he/she can to develop probable cause. Folks who don't know think of cops as traffic citation writers or door-shakers, but it just isn't that way. When I was a police chief in a small Montana town after retiring from LAPD, we actually had a group of Colombians come into town thinking we were a bunch of small-town rubes. They conspired with some locals to do a cocaine-money laundering scheme - and failed miserably when a Fish and Game Warden came across them one day. One thing led to another and they all went down, including the locals who were naive enough to think they wouldn't be hassled by the local cops. Surprise!

    And given the numbers of thefts, even just the ones reported here, wouldn't you want me to inquire if I happened upon someone with a musical instrument and I was able to obtain a serial number (or better, see an obliterated serial number). That is often how stolen property is recovered . . . and that is why many states have laws like this. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Serial Number Removed

    Carl, I am simply asking if Dave would a) search a saxophone case for some one pulled over for a traffic violation. B) if he has sworn an oath to uphold and protect the constitution. C) if he would feel comfortable standing before a judge and testifying if he had searched a saxophone case during a routine traffic violation stop. If he has then I do have a problem with either an officer of the law or how the constitution is being interpreted. I would also suggest that we are swerving rapidly into politics.

    I also think there is a reason-ability question.... if a serial number is located where it under goes abrasion, such as where neck strap hook would rub or a thumb would rub and it gets "obliterated" would that make the sax player a criminal? If so..... yall better be careful how you handle your saxophones. You might be committing felonies.

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