Pawn shop owners find regulations onerous

Jan. 14, 2014 @ 05:00 PM

A recent change to the Monroe’s city ordinances has been a point of contention for pawn shop owners. 

The ordinance requires owners to take a picture of every item that comes in to be pawned. 

David Waugh, who co-owns United Pawn and Top Dollar Jewelry, said no one told them the ordinance had passed. He did not find out until he received a phone call saying they were not in compliance with the ordinance.

The ordinance passed Oct. 1 and they received notice Oct. 30, Waugh said. He attended the November meeting to voice his concerns.  

When he addressed the Monroe City Council Tuesday during public comment, council members seemed to think the concern had been addressed. 

The matter was sent back to the public safety committee which will discuss it on Wednesday. 

Waugh said they have to report items electronically, which is fine and something they have wanted to do for more than 10 years. 

The part of the ordinance that is problematic for owners is that they have to take a picture of every item that comes in. He said he would be willing to do that for items he buys, but pawned items are different. Pawned items are held for 90 days and people often repeat the items they pawn. 

Waugh had spoken with the Union County Board of Commissioners and Monroe City Council about proposed ordinances in the fall of last year. Initially, there was a proposal to require a photo of the person pawning or selling an item holding the item. That was removed. 

SEE PAWN/ PAGE A5

Waugh also contends that there aren’t always distinguishing marks on items and that the serial numbers are also logged. He noted that he has about 2,000 plain wedding bands in the store and challenges anyone to identify their band. 

“It’s a thing I have to do that doesn’t benefit anybody,” Waugh said. “We want to be able to work smarter, not harder, because it doesn’t do anything.” 

Waugh said that if the police get a “hit” on an item registered to his store, he will gladly cooperate and take photos if requested.

He said the majority of his transactions, about 90 percent, are pawn transactions and many of those transactions are repeats. The owners agreed they would take photos of items that were bought and a pawned item if the police requested it. 

Last year United Pawn had zero police pick-ups for stolen items, he said. The year before last, out of 2,700 pawn transactions, they had four police pick-ups and three were family members stealing from other family members. 

Waugh said that nationwide, less than two-tenths of a percent of pawned items are stolen. 

He hopes they will come to a solution Wednesday. 

“I got the impression from city council (Tuesday) that they thought it had been taken care of and they weren’t aware it hadn’t been,” Waugh said. He said he thinks some wires got crossed somewhere along the line. 

“Hopefully common sense will prevail,” he said.