Bill could help decrease amount of stolen goods coming through pawn shops

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A senator in Horry County is prefiling a bill aimed at decreasing the amount of stolen goods that come through pawn shops.

Sen. Greg Hembree said the bill suggests a few minor revisions to the current law, but the main change is meant to help people who have items stolen from them.

"The primary thing that it does is it shifts the burden of loss back from the pawn broker away from the victims of crime," Hembree said.

Right now, if someone has an item stolen and police later find out it was sold to a pawn shop, the victim of the theft has to go through a lot of hoops like legal action to get that item back.

Hembree said he wants to see that changed.

"That's not the best way to do it," he said. "What we're looking for here is that pawn broker is in a professional business. They are in the best position to size up the customer who walks in with a piece of merchandise to determine is this person doing this on the up and up, or is it stolen property."

This bill would change things so the victims of thefts won't have to go through as many hoops. The proposed legislation also requires pawn shops to increase their security process when buying an item from someone.

"One of the things that it does is it enhances the identification procedures of the people that are pawning goods," Hembree said.

Right now, pawn shops are required to get the fingerprint of anyone who sells to them, but this bill would require a digital photograph of the seller as well.

Hembree said while the main focus is to help victims of theft, the pawn shops will benefit too.

"Ultimately, we're targeting this for people who are victims of a crime," he said. "That's who we're trying to protect. Secondarily, in a strange sort of way, I think it will protect the pawn broker, because when that burden is on the pawn broker, that risk of loss is on the pawn broker if they take this property, suspecting it's stolen, then they won't accept it."

Right now the bill is with the committee on labor, commerce and industry.

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