By Destiny Brandon
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – To curb the sale of stolen property, pawnshops soon will keep a photo of people who sell the stores items. And pawnbrokers will be prohibited from receiving or re-selling goods if the original serial number has been altered or change.
That’s the gist of a new state law that will take effect July 1. The General Assembly unanimously passed House Bill 1649 this year, and Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the legislation into law last month.
Under current law, people who sell an item to a pawnbroker must show a government-issued identification card, such as a driver’s license. HB 1649, sponsored by Delegate Mamye BaCote, D-Newport News, and a bipartisan group of nine other legislators, will impose more stringent ID requirements.
The new law says that the ID card must bear “a photograph of the person pawning, pledging, or selling the goods, article, or thing” and that the pawnbroker must keep “a digital image of the form of identification used by the person involved in the transaction.”
Existing law requires pawnbrokers to give police a daily report of the items being pawned and each seller’s name, address and other information from the identification card. Beginning July 1, those reports also will include “a photograph or digital image of the form of identification used by the pledgor or seller.” Pawnbrokers will have to keep those records for at least 24 months.
Moreover, the new law states, “No goods, article, or thing shall be pawned or pledged or received on account of money loaned or purchased for resale if the original serial number affixed to the goods, article, or thing has been removed, defaced, or altered.”
Pawnbrokers who violate the law can be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of $250.
Area pawnbrokers said they weren’t aware of the new law.
John Goodman, the owner of Friedman’s Loan Office in Richmond, said “You’re maybe going to the wrong source. You’re asking my opinion about it, but I haven’t read it yet.”
State officials hope the new law will make it harder for thieves to fence things they steal. But one theft victim, Vickie Walker of Amherst County, doesn’t think HB 1649 does enough to combat the problem.
Walker suggests that pawnshops should hold items for more than 15 days and maintain a digital database of received goods.
Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.