Can sneaker resellers stop looters from profiting?

Ronald D. White and Suhauna Hussain, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

LOS ANGELES -- High-end sneakers and other luxury goods have been targets of choice for thieves amid the unrest in cities across the nation on recent nights, as small groups of troublemakers took advantage of mostly peaceful demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.

But those seeking to profit from the sale of stolen goods might struggle, as the businesses responsible for moving most of the merchandise in the $2 billion sneaker resale market said they would be alert to anyone listing suspect goods on their platforms.

"One of our top priorities is to ensure there is trust and safety in the sneaker industry," said Matt Cohen, vice president of business development and strategy for the GOAT online marketplace and Flight Club sneaker consignment chain, which merged in 2018.

Flight Club's North Fairfax Avenue location was among the stores picked over by thieves, as was the competing Cool Kicks store on Melrose Avenue.

"Over the years, we have worked tirelessly to prevent fraudulent activity and we intend to continue our robust practices with increased vigilance, especially in light of recent events and concerns around stolen products," Cohen said. "We will not allow for these stolen products to be sold on our platforms and all suspected products will be removed."

The biggest sneaker resale platforms, including StockX, and online marketplaces such as EBay said they already were on the lookout for illegally obtained merchandise.


"Our fraud team is investigating the situation and will take any available measures to prevent the sale of stolen goods on our platform," StockX said in a statement Monday.

Poshmark -- an online marketplace where users buy and sell new or used clothing, shoes and accessories -- said that it had not seen any increase in suspiciously sourced goods, but spokeswoman Kelly Groves said, "We will work with law enforcement to investigate should this change. We are actively monitoring activity on our platform to ensure that stolen goods are not being sold on Poshmark."

EBay, one of the first online marketplaces to host sneaker resales, said it was "fully committed to providing a secure online shopping experience to millions of people globally," spokeswoman Ashley Settle said. "We have zero tolerance for criminal activity on our platform -- stolen items are illegal and we actively work to prevent them."

In the tumult after Floyd's May 25 death, businesses of all kinds were targeted by both opportunists jumping through broken windows and teams strategically pulling up and filling their vehicles with merchandise before quickly driving off. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia characterized the vandalism, looting and arson in his city as coming from organized criminals not affiliated with peaceful protests.


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