I need some backstory for a pawnbroker who my main patient comes in contact with on his run of downward luck. New York has some strict rules on the practice and remarkably good enforcement of stolen property in many places. That said, I'm looking for how one might plausibly get involved with an illegal operation that could supply him with money for items of questionable, but not always illegal origin (if one's worn out their welcome with aboveboard brokers or is already on the lam). Ideally this would come in the form of a fence-to-the-fence, a person who would then find a way to make the property find the hands of a licensed pawnbroker or a further network by which to distribute goods and raise capital. Also, where would one get involved in the pawnbroker business, either above or under the table? How does one learn how to appraise valuables and get the street smarts of the business, and how to handle a customer such as my patient (likely a common sort of customer - not necessarily what he'd do, but where he'd learn to do what he did)?
I'm assuming financial details on this are at my discretion, but if anyone has ideas as to how the criminal underground works I'm all ears. Specifically, how does one find this sort of resource should they go into a city searching? My character is from rural upstate New York and would be going to any of the major cities (along I-90 or I-87, or perhaps Binghamton or Ithaca, but excluding NYC and surrounding area). As you might surmise from my previous post, he is not driving on the legal.
I know very little on how the criminal underground operates in reality, so if this isn't plausible at all tell me so I can figure out more ways for him to get in trouble :).