A new county ordinance will help investigators find stolen property, but cost pawn shops, pawnbrokers and precious metals dealers, who will be required to produce digital records of transactions.
Commissioner Clarence Brown approved Bartow's Fair Business Practices Act, effective May 1, as requested by Sheriff Clark Millsap following investigators' "difficulty with tracking and recovering stolen items, which are often unwittingly accepted by pawnshops, secondhand dealers and precious metal dealers," the ordinance says.
Via a Business Watch International database, the businesses will be required to submit to the Bartow County Sheriff's Office information on each transaction, including photos of the customer and items pawned or sold.
“Theft is a big thing,” criminal investigations Maj. Doug Duncan said, according to the newspaper. “We’re not regulating pawn shops. We’re not out here to make their jobs miserable. This is a tool for us to make our job easier as far as identification and recovery of stolen property for the victims.”
In 2011, the county saw an increase in theft and burglary cases, and while prosecuting offenders, focused on how they profited from the crimes, such as by selling items to pawn shops or salvage yards.
“If we can cut that down or regulate that, maybe that will lower the crime rate,” Rogers said in January. “I don’t blame the pawn shop. They’re a legitimate business.
"A lot of these guys will use a pawn shop one time and not go back because they know they’ve sold something and it was stolen. We’re trying to concentrate on those types of places, not to put a chokehold on the legitimate business side of it but to reduce the criminal side. It helps us to be able to weed out the criminal activity.”
Several recent stories involved theft and pawn profit allegations:
Man Wanted in Alleged Silver Take
Sheriff: Burglar Sold Valuables to Pawn Shop
Sheriff: Burglar Stole $50K in Jewelry
Cops: Woman Neglected Birds that Died
Annual permitting for shops and their employees also is required. Convictions for crimes involving “moral turpitude,” any crime involving fraud, theft, burglary, or robbery, or a violation of the “Family Violence Act” exclude applicants. The annual fee for stores is $25, but employee permits are free.