Proposed SC bill would make it easier for victims to get stolen items back from pawn shops

Officer talks state pawn shop law after helping out family who were the victims of a theft

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A piece of legislation called the Pawn Shop Bill was introduced in the South Carolina House on Thursday.

The bill would make it easier for victims to get their stolen items back from a pawn shop. An Horry County police officer helped with a similar case this last week, when a local family's home was burglarized and their items were sold to a pawn shop.

The officer took it upon herself to get a special item back.

"Someone broke the window and made entry through there. A television was missing, her child's Xbox, games and controllers, I believe two laptops, and a movie box was missing," said Horry County Police Officer Shellneil Whitman. "I know that the kid, he's a young kid. I believe he's about 5 years old. He received (the) Xbox as a gift from Santa for Christmas."

Whitman had the serial number from the Xbox and put it in their system.

"The following day, I received an email that the items were located at a local pawn shop," she said.

Whitman found the Xbox was sold to the store for $100.

"I called the mom and advised her where the property was and if she wanted to come down and retrieve it. Unfortunately, she would have had to pay $100 due to the pawn shop law," said Whitman.

State law requires victims of the theft to take legal action or buy the item to get it back from a pawn shop. However, the bill introduced in the state House on Thursday would change that.

The proposed bill makes it so the burden of loss shifts from the victim to the pawn shop. In some cases, like this one, the owners can't afford to buy back their stolen item and Whitman knew that.

"I thought that it would be in the best interest for the child and morally for me - I knew the mother couldn't afford it - so I paid the $100 to get the Xbox back," she said.

Whitman says giving the item back to the boy is something she'll never forget.

"I'm not sure if a 5-year-old really knows what happened that day, so I wanted to make a positive impact on his life and let him know that we're there, we're watching, and I'm there for his benefit and I just wanted to give him a good outlook on us," she said.

Unfortunately, none of the other stolen items have been located, but Whitman says the three people responsible for the burglary have been arrested.

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