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County buys into pawn shop changes
Ordinance amended to include stricter regulations
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Forsyth County News

Months of discussion on pawn shop regulations came to fruition Tuesday night as the Forsyth County commission approved the ordinance amendments.

Commissioners voted 4-0, with Cindy Jones Mills absent, to pass the additions.

The changes increase reporting requirements for pawn brokers and set a holding period before items can be resold.

Pawn shops must obtain fingerprints of anyone pledging an item as well as a photo of that person, both of which will be sent in the daily electronic report to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Stores are also required to keep surveillance tapes for at least 12 days.

Law enforcement first presented the proposal in December as an effort aimed at deterring thieves and recovering stolen goods.

Pawn shop owners spoke out against the initial, more intensive requirements proposed at the first hearing in February, but agreed to meet with the sheriff's office.

The sides reached a compromise in May, but some of the changes in the proposal required additional public hearings, delaying its passage.

At the final public hearing in June, the commission heard from a final speaker, who questioned why pawn shops had been singled out among resale businesses.

The commission then delayed its vote for more discussion.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said Tuesday that the commission considered the question about the ordinance and concluded that “there is a distinction between pawn shops and other business models.”

At a June 25 work session, Jarrard pointed out that pawn shops offer money for goods and present a unique resale business in the eyes of law enforcement.

“Good or bad, right or wrong, there has been a history that pawn shops have served as some sort of an outlet for perhaps the moving of merchandise that wasn’t procured lawfully,” he said. “That’s where all these regulations came from.”

Mills said at the work session that she felt the commission went about the changes correctly, by getting justification from the sheriff’s office and then asking law enforcement and shop owners to work together.

In neighboring Hall County, commissioners recently voted down a proposal with the same aim that would have applied to pawnshops, secondhand stores and jewelry dealers.

Forsyth dropped a second proposal to regulate precious metal and gem sales in February before the suggested ordinance reached a first public hearing.