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Pawn shops to collect buyer details
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Forsyth County News

Five Star Pawn owner Sean Smith said he's "outraged" over a countywide ordinance that forces him to obtain personal information from his customers.

While Smith said it's standard for pawn shops to gather such details and fingerprints from those they buy from, requiring them to get the name and phone number of each customer, even those buying a $1 hammer, is "just plain idiotic, pure and simple."

Forsyth County commissioners approved the amendment to the pawnbrokers and pawnshop establishments ordinance at a meeting Thursday night. The measure passed 4-1 with Commissioner David Richard opposed.

"You're talking about every single pawn shop transaction here, 99 percent of which are probably legal transactions," Richard said. "It's just way too much governing. This is not what the commission should be doing to businesses."

Chairman Charles Laughinghouse disagreed, citing the 30-day rule for items after they are pawned.

"Pawnshops are only required to hold an item for 30 days after the pawning," he said.

"There are temporary residences around the lake where people don't necessarily return to every day after work," Laughinghouse said. "If a break-in occurs, items can be pawned and that period could be long over before a person returns home."

Laughinghouse said having a record of where the item goes after it leaves the pawnshop is "a worthwhile addition" to the county's pawnshop ordinance.

But Smith said he feels pawn shops are getting picked on, particularly the two stores in the county.

"It's a prejudice and an injustice toward pawn shops," he said, adding that he has spoken with the president of the Georgia Pawnbrokers Association.

"He told me he had never heard of requiring the customer buying the item to provide any information to the pawn shop," Smith said.

Smith said the other two of Forsyth's four pawn shops are in the city limits of Cumming, where they will not be subject to the new county ordinance.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard told commissioners Thursday night that he had spoken with Sheriff Ted Paxton, who had indicated that "with respect to purchases, if the board was inclined to do away with the requirement of a signature and phone number and make it just like any other retail transaction, he was fine with that."

"His concern is on the receiving end," Jarrard continued.

Four out of the five commissioners, however, saw it differently.

The amendment to the ordinance does not require any kind of identification card.

"They can tell me their name is Mickey Mouse and their phone number is (555) 555-5555," Smith said. "I have to take their word for it. This thing is just so absurd."

Commissioner Jim Harrell doesn't think so.

"I'm just concerned about the recovery of items," he said. "I'm just thinking of the person who loses things that were valuable to them that may be recoverable."

Smith said that's all taken care of when items come into the pawn shop with the mandated 30-day waiting period before an item is sold.

"It's on the selling end that I have a problem with this," he said. "It's prying into somebody's information.

"In this day and age, people aren't too keen on giving out personal information, because there's too much identity theft going on. This is going to hurt my business."