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Pawn shop tests software
Shop-owner now OK with proposed law
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Hope Thompson, owner of Wanted or Not Swap Shop, takes a photograph of items to be pawned at her shop. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Hope Thompson, owner and operator of Wanted or Not Swap & Pawn, has no complaints so far about software that was installed at her business in connection with a proposed county ordinance.

“It is not as intrusive as I anticipated it being,” Thompson said of LeadsOnline Image Capture, software that allows images to be uploaded to LeadsOnline’s database.

At a meeting of the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 27, Thompson raised a number of concerns about a proposed county ordinance on reporting/recording procedures for pawn dealers, scrap metal recyclers and precious metal dealers.

The ordinance would require, among other things, that records/reports be filed electronically, rather than through paper reports/records, as is done now. In addition, those businesses would have to take and upload images of the merchandise.

Thompson said at that meeting that legitimate pawn shops already do a lot of reporting/recording to meet governmental requirements, and she believes that effort benefits law enforcement. She said she feared parts of the proposed ordinance could be time-consuming and increase costs for businesses.

She also said at the meeting she was concerned about the possibility of having to photograph each item of merchandise. Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry responded that he wouldn’t have a problem with businesses taking one photograph of a number of items of merchandise rather than taking a photo of each item.

Perry has indicated a new ordinance is necessary to improve data collection on potentially stolen or recovered items through LeadsOnline.

According to LeadsOnline’s website, in jurisdictions that use the service, pawn shops, second-hand stores, gold buyers and scrap metal recyclers must upload information about each transaction. The system automatically checks all items with serial numbers sold in local pawn and second-hand stores against state and national databases, and it alerts local police agencies to items reported as stolen.

The discussion at the Nov. 27 meeting ended with the supervisors putting off a vote on the proposed ordinance to give the sheriff’s office time to try to resolve some of the concerns raised primarily by Thompson.

But in a recent interview, Thompson said, “I’m ready to tell the supervisors we’re up and running.” The LeadsOnline Image Capture software was installed at her business the day before at no cost to her, she said.

Since the installation, she has started photographing merchandise grouped together. Previously, she was photographing customers but not merchandise.

Even though it is not required under the proposed ordinance, she is considering spending about $500 to upgrade some existing hardware at her business to improve the efficiency of taking photographs of customers. Since the LeadsOnline Image Capture software was installed, she temporarily has been unable to photograph her customers due to technical reasons, she said.

She said that her business, which is in Cloverleaf Shopping Center south of Martinsville, has been entering data on LeadsOnline since 2005, so it may be in a better position than other local pawn shops to implement the new ordinance if it is approved. She pointed out, though, the proposed ordinance’s regulations would increase the work she does.

Her business already was in compliance with governmental regulations, she said. “They don’t have a particular issue with me. I’ve always worked well with the sheriff’s office,” she said.

She said she doesn’t think the new ordinance would accomplish much with her business, but it might help at other businesses in catching property thefts or recovering stolen property.

When weighing the pros and cons of the proposed ordinance, Thompson said, “I have no cons to bring up, other than additional regulations on small businesses. I also don’t have much to say on positives.”

Perry said recently that LeadsOnline has been accommodating to businesses and that he thinks the concerns that have been raised will be resolved soon.

“We’re hopeful the board of supervisors will pass the ordinance,” he said. “We feel it is necessary because of larcenies that have taken place and are still taking place.”

“It would put everybody reporting the same information” and provide better descriptions of stolen property, Perry said of the proposed ordinance. Working with LeadsOnline would make it faster to search for stolen property and increase the chances of finding the property, he said.


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