Pawnshop e-filings bill goes to governor's desk
By Shane Cohn 07/05/2012
A bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk this summer calls for the creation of an online database for secondhand dealers to report their transactions the same day they occur.
So law enforcement can track illegal activity and recover stolen goods with the aid of a comprehensive statewide system. With a spike in area residential burglaries, the bill makes sense to Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara/Ventura, who co-authored the bill.
“It helps pawn shops move away from dealing misbegotten gains,” said Williams. “The most important part is, it becomes a tool for law enforcement to recover stolen property.”
AB 391, authored by Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, implements a $300 biennial fee for businesses, such as pawn shops, that hold a secondhand dealers license. The money would be used by the California Department of Justice for the sole purpose of maintaining and operating the online database that would be accessible for all law enforcement agencies in the state.
The current law requires dealers to fill out a Department of Justice (DOJ) form for every pawn or secondhand dealer transaction, and then mail copies of the form to the DOJ and local law enforcement. The dealer also has to keep copies of every transaction.
The fee and online database would actually save money for small businesses because they would no longer have to mail hard copies of their transactions each day, explained pawnshop owner Jan Schneider, also a spokeswoman for the California Pawnbrokers Association (CAPA).
“A $300 biennial fee is 41 cents a day. It currently costs us at least $1.90 a day because of the number of transactions we do, and there are places that do much more than that,” she said.
CAPA estimated that a medium-sized business, open six days a week, would have to fill out, index, file and store more than 30,000 DOJ forms a year. Using the printing, storage, postage, supplies and labor costs, CAPA figured it costs more than $14,000 for pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers to physically handle the DOJ forms.
Because of the antiquated reporting requirements, Schneider added, the DOJ forms occupy about 200 feet in storage space at her storefront.
With more than 4,400 businesses in California that must report these transactions, law enforcement and the DOJ receive hundreds of forms daily, making it virtually impossible to maintain an effective database to identify and locate stolen goods.
Only businesses that are currently required by law to report transactions are affected by this bill. Coin dealers are exempted in the bill’s new amendments.
The bill has no remaining opposition and 82 co-authors, also including Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks.