15 Sep 2014
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Police, Commissioners Discuss Pawn Shop Tech

The potential changes to the Code of Cobb County would mandate security measures to fight the pawning of stolen goods, but the issue of fees for the service is proving a stumbling block.

Police, Commissioners Discuss Pawn Shop Tech

The and the are looking for ways to recover stolen property and catch those pawning stolen items.

The Police Department has suggested the amendment of Chapter 78 of the Code of Cobb County. The additions would include provisions for Cobb County pawn shops to be equipped with electronic fingerprint readers. Additionally, pawn shop attendants would be required to photograph each client and the items being pawned.

"If we have the system, more property will be recovered and people who trade in stolen goods may move to other ventures," said Cobb Police Chief John Houser. "In areas where this program has been started, business does not decrease."

Houser had been observing other jurisdictions who use the system proposed, and discovered that around 25 or 30 pieces of property stolen in Cobb County were pawned in other locations in the state. Law Enforcement using this system would have a national fingerprint database, which would allow officers to run fingerprints from their offices instead of traveling to the pawn shop and pick up the pawn ticket.

A dissenting voice was provided by John Moore, a representative of a chain of pawn shops in the area. Moore argued that the costs of this system far outweigh any potential benefits it would provide; Moore quoted statistics that only .05 percent of all pawned goods are stolen property or even suspected of being stolen.

Moore stated that as of this moment, the drafted ordinance is incomplete. There are no provisions yet as to who will pay the fees involved with this program. Chief Houser said that all equipment and software would be provided up front, and pawn shops would charge roughly 15 cents a transaction to recoup the costs, however this wording was not in the ordinance.

Commissioner Bob Ott suggested that the county present the RFP (request for proposal) before they codify the ordinance, to ensure that confusion does not arise between the county, pawn shop owners, and any vendors of the system proposed.

"We support this, but we need to do this in a way that will prevent future unforeseen problems," said Commission Chairman Tim Lee. 

The Commissioners suggested that they work in concert with all relevant departments to produce a satisfactory ordinance that would address the issue of fees.

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