Gainesville police say they are seeing results after an ordinance was passed in November requiring pawnbrokers to maintain an electronic database of items and sellers.
The aim was to make it easier for law enforcement officials to recover stolen property sold to pawnshops.
“We have already begun seeing results that are a direct correlation to this ordinance,” police spokesman Cpl. Kevin Holbrook said.
Items must be electronically documented with a fingerprint ID and a photo of individuals and what they’re pawning.
Gus Marroquin, owner of Pappy’s Pawn in Gainesville, said he doesn’t mind the extra regulations.
“That’s actually a really good thing for the people that live in the county and city, because anybody can be a victim of robbery,” he said.
Marroquin said the ordinance hasn’t been hard to implement and is good for pawnshops.
“Criminals will find ways to get rid of the stolen stuff so that people don’t find out, but we don’t want their business,” he said.
Better yet, catching more criminals is good for the community and good for business, he said.
“We want those people off the streets,” he said. “You’d be surprised because people ask me about the new system, and they’ll still bring attention to the system of stuff that is stolen knowing they’ll get caught.”
Holbrook said other shops have provided positive feedback, too.
“This is a way that local businesses and the police can partner together to put criminals out of business,” he said.
Now, Forsyth County is considering a similar ordinance, and pawnshop owners there are skeptical.
Owners voiced opposition at Thursday’s Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The “most substantive changes” proposed there include requiring electronic filing of a daily report and taking digital photos and fingerprints of sellers, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.
If approved, the ordinance would make it a violation to falsify records. It also would require shops with surveillance equipment to keep those records for at least 30 days and expand denial of an application for anyone associated with a business who has had a license suspended or revoked.
Aron Hendrix of Lake Lanier Pawn Shop said anyone who buys from the public should have the same rules, yet the ordinance singles out pawnbrokers.
Forsyth pawnbrokers did note though that they don’t want stolen items in their shops.
“We wind up with a very minimal amount of things that (are) stolen,” said Joel Smith of Five Star Pawn. “But my shop has always worked diligently with the sheriff’s (office) to get things that are stolen back to the people who own them at our loss, our cost.
“We don’t want stolen items in our shop. It makes us look bad as pawnshops.”
Gary Magee of Mountain View Pawn said people have a better chance of being caught at a pawnshop than elsewhere.
“We’re pretty heavily regulated already,” he said. “I don’t understand how this will help all that much.”
One part of the Gainesville ordinance did get a little resistance, too.
Employees have to pass a background check and obtain an annual permit, which costs about $50, to work at the stores. Marroquin said the permit is not his favorite, but it’s just another part of running a city.
“The broker’s license — it had its cause. Everybody has to be pitching in with the city not getting as much revenue from property tax on new homes,” he said.
Times regional staff writer Alyssa LaRenzie contributed to this report.