So here’s a really interesting question and quite honestly, one that I’m glad that I get to answer in some detail. A little backstory – before I was in the pawn industry I was in law enforcement and because of that, when those two fields get combined it is one of those things that I love to talk about when I can.
So here it is, do pawn shops check for warrants… Overall the answer is no, so take deep breath.
That having been said, that may not always be the case.
There are some certain scenarios where having a warrant could still come back and bite you if you are doing business with a pawn shop.
Does that sound a little confusing or like I’m answering the question in two different ways?
Well I am, but let me explain.
While most pawn shops will not check for warrants, nor do they have the power to, some pawn shops will work closely with law enforcement.
Pawn Shops Are Not Law Enforcement
The first thing that you really need to understand is that pawn shops are not law enforcement.
They aren’t cops, they don’t have the power to make arrests and they most often don’t have access to an individuals criminal background information.
What that means is that they aren’t in a position nor do they have the authority to run your ID and check for warrants.
Pawn shops most often need your ID as a matter of state law and because they have to know exactly who you are because a pawn loan or a sales agreement (if you are selling an item instead of just pawning it) is a legal contract.
Like any legal contract, the person’s identity has to be known and verified in order for that contract to be valid.
Also, pawn shops often have to report to their local law enforcement agencies on the transactions they do and in some states, those law enforcement agencies require the names of the people making the loans or selling the items.
Now here is where things can get a little tricky!
Pawn Shops May Work With Law Enforcement
Because pawn shop have to turn in these report on their transactions, the local law enforcement agencies in the area may see a suspect’s name on the list of transactions and ask the pawn shop to call them should that individual come in to make a payment on a loan or sell something.
The reasons for doing this can vary but one of them very well could be that the person that they have an interest in could have an outstanding warrant and in those cases, you might find yourself in a pinch.
However, these scenarios are very few and far between and on top of it, not all pawn shops are going to blindly comply with a request like that – for several reasons.
First of all, it may put the pawn shop and the employees who work there at risk or place them in harms way if something goes wrong.
That’s a liability that no pawn broker really wants on their hands. However, it is an individual issues and up to that specific pawnbroker on whether they will choose to comply with that kind of request.
The other reason that a pawn shop may not comply with that kind of “Call Us Please” request from a law enforcement agency is because the transaction that a pawn shop does are private and between the customer and the pawn shop.
They may not always want to just fork over that kind of information, damage their reputation with the customer and on top of it, feel like they are doing law enforcement’s job for them.
Now, this scenario is much more likely the case in area’s where law enforcement has soured a relationship with the pawn broker or tried to “Bully” them into doing things.
The Relationships Between Pawn Shops And Law Enforcement
Now, if you remember, in the beginning of this article, I told you that I was involved with law enforcement before my pawn days. It was a fun career and a good job.
Like any job though, there are good guys and bad guys in that line of work and there’s just nothing you can do about that, no matter how strict the hiring process is.
You won’t often find me saying anything negative about law enforcement, but occasionally, someone is just a butthead about something or has an ego to sooth.
When it comes to pawn shops and pawn brokers, they are ripe targets for these kinds of guys because despite the fact that the industry is very clean and that less than .25% of all pawn transaction in my experience involve anything illegal – some cops still think that pawn shops are just where the bad guys go to unload their stolen goods or hang out.
That of course couldn’t be further from the truth these days but none the less, that doesn’t stop some guys or girls who wear the uniform from trying to make a point.
In these cases, they may have tried to unlawfully remove property from the pawn shop in the past, bully or intimidate the pawn broker and their employees or just find new, clever ways to harass them simply because they don’t like the business or couldn’t get their way one time.
These things happen and when they do, it’s only to the determent of everyone involved because then the pawn shop won’t want to closely work with law enforcement, which can really gum up the work. However, it’s also under these senarios that a pawn shop may not be so willing to comply with the “Call us if so-and-so comes in” request.
How I Operate With Law Enforcement Agencies
Now, after reading this you might be under the impression that I don’t like law enforcement or that I don’t have my pawn shops operating well with them and nothing could be further from the truth.
I bend over backwards for the law enforcement agencies in my areas and will always help them. We’ve built great relationships over the years and they’ve come to trust us just as we’ve come to trust them.
That’s really the flip side of this coin. Above I painted a picture where a pawn broker may not like cops, but that’s not always the case and I would go out on a limb and say that it’s really not often the case at all.
Pawn shops and law enforcement can work very well together as long as both parties respect each other and do what they can to help each other and if you are pawn broker reading this – then that’s exactly what I suggest you do as well.
I’m not saying to go out there and break the law to do it, or put your customers at risk… but if you get a call from a cop looking for something, take a few minutes and help them out. Ultimately, it will do you a lot more good than just about anything else you could be doing in that time, I promise you that.
Mandy Dormain started working for Pawn Nerd in 2020. Mandy grew up in a small town in northern Tennessee. But moved to New York for university. Before joining Pawn Nerd, Mandy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers politics and economy stories.