The Renton Police Department is looking to make pawn shops check if sellers are on a state-wide “No Buy From” list before they do business in an attempt to cut down on stolen property winding up in the stores.
The issue first came up at a Committee of the Whole meeting in November and has been referred to the council’s Public Safety Committee for review.
According to a memo attached to the draft ordinance, Renton, like most of the state, has experienced a jump in property crimes in recent years with much of the property showing up in local pawn shops.
“It’s not uncommon that some of this property makes its way to pawn stores,” Commander Jeff Eddy said this week.
The city of Renton does not currently contribute to the list and local pawnbrokers are not required to check to see if a seller is active on the list. By adding the list to Renton’s Municipal Code, pawn shops in the city would be required to check the list before doing business.
“What we were finding is people were coming to Renton pawn stores who were on that list,” Eddy said this week. “We’re trying to close that loophole.”
To help combat that problem, local jurisdictions can contribute to a state-wide list of people added after being convicted of burglary, robbery, theft, and possession of or receiving stolen property within the past ten years. Under state law, any pawnbroker who sells to a person on the list or under the age of 18 or under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs can be charged with a gross misdemeanor.
The new code would also require shops to include in the sales record a copy of a government-issued picture identification and the names and addresses of anyone witnessing the transaction and requires every pawnbroker to “verify the accuracy of the name and identification provided by the person with whom each transaction is had.”
The list would be an online service that requires users to have unique passwords. It would be maintained by Renton police and available to shops free of charge. Eddy said the online version of the list makes it easier for local pawn brokers who in the “paper days” would have to take a list of the previous day’s transactions to City Hall to check the list.
Public Safety Committee chair Armondo Pavone said the council was receiving “a little pushback” from pawn shops over the proposed ordinance.
At Ben’s Loan Inc in downtown for example, owner Melanie (who declined to give her last name) said she does not think her store has a problem with stolen goods and forcing her to check a list would unnecessarily complicate her business.
“Absolutely I’m against it,” she said this week.
Melanie also said she has questions about the list itself, including knowing who is still “active” on the list.
The Public Safety Committee is expected to take up the issue this month.