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Pawn policy: Second try on second-hand rule
Until this summer, Manchester had a policy on record-keeping at pawn shops that was outdated and cumbersome. Now it has a policy that is updated and more cumbersome.
The city used to require pawn shop owners to keep a handwritten record of each item they bought. The goal was to leave a paper trail the police could follow when tracking down stolen goods. In June, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a new ordinance that replaces the handwritten notes with a computerized database. That makes sense. The details, though, place a big and unreasonable burden on shop owners.
The ordinance requires shop owners to enter the data into a privately run database that is accessible to police departments. The shop owners have to pay a $1 fee per entry. That can be a significant cost for shops that trade in thousands of items. But it is small compared to the cost of the new storage requirement.
The city used to make owners wait a week before selling a newly purchased item. That was to give police time to check items against lists of stolen goods. Under the new requirement, pawn shops have to hold items for 30 days.
The owner of Manchester Music Mill on Elm Street says he had to rent a $1,100-a-month storage space to comply with the ordinance. Not only does he have to pay the storage fee, but he loses the opportunity to sell that merchandise for 30 days.
If this rule is still on the books during the Christmas shopping season, it is going to hurt places like Manchester Music Mill even more. All items pawned after Nov. 25 will have to be held in storage until after Christmas.
Manchester needed a better way to record these sales, but this policy was not it. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen need to come up with a new one, and fast.
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