Ordinance could make it tougher for criminals to pawn stolen items


by Brook Hasch


Posted on December 4, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 8:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A future vote in the Louisville Metro Council could make it harder for criminals to pawn and sell stolen items.

Similar to laws preventing scrap metal theft, this ordinance would help police further track down crooks looking to trade their goods for some green.

Just this year, Metro Police have investigated 1,468 cases of stolen property found in pawn shops.

"We're sort of already a detective agency for the police department now the way it is," Jeff Stein, owner of Stewart's Pawn Shop in Louisville, said.

Customers looking to make a buck at Stewart's Pawn Shop know the drill when it comes to selling or pawning merchandise. The goods don't exchange hands until a number of details are added into the shop's database.

"We get their height, weight, age, race, telephone number, address, social security number, and ID number," Stein said. "We also take a picture of the person."

It's exactly the information that could lead police to an arrest if an item in the shop is determined stolen.

"They can find all this information from us," Stein said.

"We have three different pieces of paper. The first paper has a little square on the back. We get the right thumb print. That one goes to the police department, we keep the white one and the pink one goes to the customer," JoAnne Higgins, a loan associate, said.

Stein says he works with LMPD on a daily basis, reporting everything that comes into his shop. He says it's rare to get a call about a theft that's landed behind his glass.

"It goes on what's called a police hold, they identify the person it was stolen from, and they come and identify the merchandise and go to court. It happens, I'm not saying it doesn't," Stein said.

In hopes of cracking down on the items that aren't sold from their original owner, Stein says he favors a proposed ordinance making its way through the Metro Council in the next week. He says the major change would be a time constraint. The law would require pawn shops to make a report of all activity in the last 24 hours at 11 a.m. every day. Stein says his shop already does this each night during closing time. The new law would also require every piece of merchandise to get photographed, giving police a better idea of what's in store.

"We do over 100 pawns a day. Each pawn takes two to three minutes, so taking pictures of each individual item could take three to four to five minutes depending on how many items they have," Stein said.

The photos would remain in the system for a year as well as a copy of the person's photo ID and transaction.

The pawn shop ordinance already received approval from the Metro Councils' Public Safety Committee. It will get a final vote in the full Metro Council Thursday, Dec. 12.