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Massachusetts police chief wants pawn shops to ask for seller ID

Oct 03, 2012 Quinn Thomas

Residents in Somerset, Massachusetts, may need to provide government identification when selling gold to pawn shops if a local bylaw is amended. According to, the Board of Selectmen has been asked by Police Chief Joseph Ferreira to consider changing the rules that apply to businesses engaged in short term lending. With more people looking to cash in on the contents of their jewellery box, pawn shops in the town have been accepting more gold, but do not ask the seller to prove a legitimate nature for the sale. When expensive items go missing from residential homes and commercial properties, one of the places that police officers will investigate are short term lenders. In most cases, the vendor cannot provide any real information as to the identity of the seller, and Ferreira wants to implement a stipulation that all pawn shops or gold brokers in Somerset ask for identification before accepting the item for sale. File under frequent seller
The police chief also wants pawn shops to keep the names and addresses of sellers on file, while also noting any unusual markings or engravings on the gold. As part of the record-keeping requirements, vendors should also not make the item available for sale for at least 14 days, and that the police should be informed of any seller who frequently uses pawn shops to obtain alternative financing. While this may sound like a draconian measure, Ferreira has asked the Selectmen to bear in mind a Rhode Island state law that requires pawn shops to post images of all items online. This has allowed police officers to identity stolen goods quickly, although state legislation aimed at more stringent record keeping and positive identification requirements is still struggling to be accepted by regional lobbyists for the money-lending industry. However, the law does allow individual towns to impose their own requirements for pawn shops in their business community. With so many avenues open in the Somerset area for selling and buying gold, the police chief feels that the community will benefit if pawn shops are required to ask for identification before accepting any gold item for sale. "We are very mindful that we can only 'protect and serve' if we are in partnership with the community," Ferreira wrote on the town website. "To that extent, we are extremely publicly oriented and have put many programs in place to ensure maximum intervention with the public."