“It sends the message that you are responsible to find out where things (you buy) come from and not take any old explanation,” said Mattias Flodwall, consumer guide from Gothenburg, to Sveriges Radio (SR).
The clothes were stolen over the course of three years by a 44-year-old Gothenburg woman who pilfered high street fashion stores of clothes and accessories valued at up to three million kronor ($453,700).
She sold her loot cheaply over the internet auction site Tradera, Sweden’s version of eBay.
After being found out and standing trial, she was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, a sentence the appeals court lowered to 2.5 years.
But the court also convicted four of her customers.
The Appeal’s Court (Hovrätten) agreed with the district court’s verdict and on Wednesday sentenced the women to a fine amounting to 60 days’ pay for dealing with stolen goods.
The woman had said that she was able to buy the stock at cost, being a stock room employee or driver of a company delivery van, reported SR.
However, the court didn’t find the explanation plausible enough for her customers to have accepted her story at face value.
Instead, the court was of the opinion that the women should have tried to find out more about the woman’s identity and the origins of what she was selling.
The four women made many purchases from the 44-year-old, to a value of 25,000 to 32,000 kronor each.
Experts on consumer rights say that it s vital that anyone buying clothes through private vendors make sure they know the true origin of the goods.
“I think so definitely. The fact is that you have a duty to make enquiries and that you can’t hide behind good faith. So even if you don’t get jail time you will lose the things you bought should they turn out to be stolen,” said Annika Brändström, CEO of the Swedish Theft Prevention Association (Stöldskyddsföreningen) to SR.
Peter Gustavsson, legal expert at the Swedish Consumer’s Agency (Konsumentverket), agreed.
“Anyone buying something from an individual should ask to see a receipt to know how the seller came to own it,” he told news agency TT.