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Proposed changes hard sell for pawn shops
Owners: Existing regulations enough
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Forsyth County News

Local pawn shop owners voiced opposition to proposed changes and additions to Forsyth County regulations during a commission meeting Thursday night.

The measures are aimed at recovering stolen goods and deterring thieves.

The “most substantive changes” under consideration 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 amendment 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 that has had a license suspended or revoked.

The suggested changes originated from the sheriff’s office during the previous administration, Jarrard said, but the new one “continue[s] to believe they are warranted.”

Sheriff Duane Piper and his agency wanted more time to consider a similar suggested ordinance to regulate dealers of precious metals and gems. That issue was tabled Thursday.

The public hearing on the pawn shop changes was the first of two required before the new rules can be adopted. The second is scheduled for March 7.

Pawn shop owners requested a meeting with the sheriff’s office before then to discuss the reasons for the changes and the challenges businesses would face to implement them.

Aron Hendrix of Lake Lanier Pawn Shop said anyone who buys from the public should have the same rules, yet the ordinance singles out pawn brokers.

Pawn shops are the only secondhand dealer currently required to keep records, said Joel Smith of Five Star Pawn.

They scan driver’s licenses and get fingerprints, as well as complete other paperwork, Smith said.

“We wind up with a very minimal amount of things that [are] stolen,” he said. “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 pawn shops.”

Gary Magee of Mountain View Pawn said people have a better chance of being caught at a pawn shop than elsewhere.

“We’re pretty heavily regulated already,” he said. “I don’t understand how this will help all that much.”