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Cash for stolen gold: Will Florida’s pawn shop law ever change?

December 13, 2013
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WFTV Channel 9 recently aired this story about a man whose iPad was stolen after his home was burglarized. His iPad later turned up in a pawn shop, but he was told he’d have to fork over few hundred dollars to get it back, even though it has been stolen from him. The reason: Florida law allows pawn shops to charge the rightful owners of stolen goods what they paid for an item, even if the owner can prove that it really belongs to them. Some pawn shops choose to do the right thing and willingly give property back and no charge – but many don’t.

We covered this story in April when we wrote about Shelly Noblett, an Orange County teacher whose home was burglarized after she was shot; Noblett’s jewelry turned up in several pawn shops around the region – and police even arrested people in connection with the incident – but every pawn shop she visited told her she’d have to buy her items back or go to court to petition for them. Noblett did go to court, but the whole experience, she said, made her feel like she was being victimized all over again.

This is not a new thing – for the past 17 years, this law has been on the books, and it has been covered multiple times by local and national media outlets. In fact, it gets covered over … and over … and over. 60 Minutes even did a national piece on it, and the Sun Sentinel has reported on the matter at length. Conclusion: Florida’s pawn shops act as a sort of cash machines for burglars and criminals. And nobody seems eager to do anything about it.

Read our story, “Cash for Stolen Gold” for more details on the law and how it impacts crime victims.

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  • julius rosen

    Ethically and morally its wrong .. The pawn shops should take the risk of stolen goods.

  • Pawnbroker

    John Smith has a ring stolen from him. The criminal brings the ring to a pawn shop signs the forms, puts his thumb print on the paperwork. The pawnshop submits this transaction to the police and because the record is available to law enforcement, usually within 24 hours the criminal is caught. If the pawn shop were required to give the ring back to John Smith without getting the money the shop paid then John Smith would no longer be the victim of a crime, the pawn shop would be. You can not pass a law that effectively transfers the status of victim, from one person to another. If you are robbed and a ring is taken that has more than just monetary value to you, and that ring is sold on the street or to a gold buyer, you never get the ring back and you never get the criminal. Most victims are never given the option after the fact, would you rather lose an item that means something to you, or the few hundred dollars the pawn shop paid for it?