Fee for pawned items seen as way to locate goods
Police are hoping for high-tech help in recovering stolen goods from pawnshops by computerizing records. But the cost of the new system would be passed on to consumers.
Current law dictates pawn slips to be filled out and given to the police department manually. Detectives pick up the slips weekly from 54 pawnshops on Oahu.
The process takes about 90 days, but pawnshops are required to hold an item for only 60 days.
A bill in the state Legislature would require pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers to file daily electronic records of their property transactions with county police departments.
"Anybody who has ever been burglarized knows that it's second only to sexual assault with a feeling of violation," said Honolulu police Maj. Gregory Lefcourt.
The proposed system would require pawnbrokers to have an Internet-capable computer to input information into a police database. Similar systems in other jurisdictions saw a large increase in recovered stolen goods, Lefcourt said.
The department made a similar proposal in 2006, but it was shot down because of the costs involved. This time, the bill proposes to have customers pay a $1.50 fee every time they make a transaction.
Yvette Moore, manager of Paradise Loan & Jewelry in Aiea and a board member of the Pawnbrokers Association, said it is unfair to target pawnbrokers.
There are several other avenues where thieves can sell stolen goods, like specialty stores and Web sites like Craigslist.org.
"A lot of pawnshops like us service the low-income people of Hawaii," Moore said. "For people who are just making $20 pawns, $1.50 is a lot to charge them. Why do we have to pay for that when we already pay high taxes? It's going to put a lot of pawnbrokers out of business."
Moore said she is also concerned with putting her customers' information on an online database.
"Police can get the work done in recording our tickets," Moore said. "They just need more help."