City enacts stricter regulations on pawn shops

Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

A more stringent ordinance dealing with pawn brokers, precious metal dealers and secondary metal recyclers was passed by the Monroe City Council Tuesday night by a 4-3 vote.

Mayor Bobby Kilgore, Mayor Pro Tem Dottie Nash and Council member Lynn Keziah voted against the measure.

The ordinance was pulled from the consent agenda in the beginning of the meeting, in order to allow for more discussion on the ordinance.

David Waugh, co-owner of Top Dollar Jewelry and Loan and United Pawn, urged the council not to approve the more stringent measures.

The ordinance requires shop owners to take pictures of items that are being pawned or sold and the people who are pawning or selling items to the store.

It includes pawnbrokers, pawn shops, cash converters, recycled metal dealers and precious metal dealers.

A cash converter, as defined by the state statute is a business that purchases goods from the public for cash at a permanently located retail store that is advertised.

The state statute exempts businesses that primarily purchase or exchange sporting goods and sports equipment and businesses who either purchase or exchange used clothing, children’s furniture and children’s products as long as the amount paid is less than $50.

Waugh said that most of his customers are low-income and need the loan from the pawn until their next paycheck. He asked how they would feel if they had to have their photos taken when they went into a bank to apply for a loan.

“It’s class discrimination, pure and simple,” Waugh said.

He said that at their stores, over the past 22 years, they have had approximately 35 items held for review and only about 25 items returned to police because the person who pawned the item was convicted of theft.

He said they have also notified the police and sheriff offices of suspicious activities so that they could investigate and arrest the suspects.

“I’m happy to help the police,” Waugh said.

However, he said this ordinance cost them time and money and was “attacking small business.”

Pawn shops are already required to upload all pawn tickets, which include a description of the item and any serial numbers that may be present, Waugh said, reading from a statement.

This is all uploaded to Leads Online. If an item is discovered potentially be stolen, based on a search of the description and serial numbers, a call to the store will hold the item until an officer can arrive to review it. The shop has offered to take pictures at this point to avoid the officer having to visit the store until the item is positively identified, he said.

Council member Debra Duncan said they had been discussing the ordinance for a while and had previously made concessions that vary from the countywide ordinance.

Council member Freddie Gordon, who chairs the public safety committee, said the ordinance came back to the committee, they felt it was important and decided to put it to bed with the universal county ordinance.

He added that it is not that hard to take and upload photos, something store owners in attendance disagreed with.

Nash said she voted against the ordinance because coming from a law enforcement family, she was not comfortable with it. Keziah said he did not like the idea of putting more restrictions on local businesses in this economy.