City bill would tighten pawnshop oversight

April 08, 2008

Pawnbrokers and owners of second-hand shops would be required to photograph their purchases and submit daily electronic reports of items to police under legislation introduced in the City Council yesterday.

The ordinance, drafted by City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, is intended to give police a tool to more rapidly identify stolen property. Shop owners currently submit the information on paper cards.

"We have to get current, and it doesn't make sense that there's a manual card system," Rawlings-Blake said. "We need to make it more convenient for victims of crime to be able to identify their potential property."

Sterling Clifford, a Police Department spokesman, said police support the idea: "When you're dealing with property crime in particular, there's always a time element that's important."

Rick Sussman, president of the Maryland Pawnbrokers Association, said he believes the industry could support the idea, but said it is important that the privacy of customers be protected and that shop owners not be burdened with additional costs to comply.

"In general, pawnshops would be very open to electronic reporting, provided the same rules apply to all businesses that acquire property from the public," said Sussman, adding that he is still reviewing the proposal.

John Fritze

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