How Old Do You Have To Be To Pawn Something?

Brian McCracken


When it comes to working with pawn shops, they will normally require that you are at least 18 years of age, depending on the state laws in your area. Being in the pawn business, I can tell you that one of the questions that I most frequently get asked is “How old do you have to be to pawn something?” Well, fortunately this is a pretty straight forward answer. A pawn loan is considered a contract, just like any other loan or financial instrument. Minors can’t legally enter in these types of arrangements in most cases. Because of that, you normally have to be at least 18 years old to make a pawn loan or sell something at a pawn shop.

With all of this in mind, I will often get asked this question by parents of children who they suspect may have stolen their items and sold them someplace. If you are a parent looking for the answer to this question, then I’ve got to mention to you that you have to consider the fact that your son or daughter could have very easily given the item(s) to an older friend, or sibling of a friend and had them sell the items or take them to a pawn shop. Kids that age typically haven’t been ‘Through the system’ yet and don’t realize just how easy it is to get caught if they should happen to try to sell something stolen to a pawn shop, so we do see it happen.
In most states, you have to be at least 18 years old to do any kind of business with a pawn shop. It’s not a matter of choice for the pawnbrokers and will almost always be a matter of state law.

Pawn Shops and Young Adults

With this in mind, it’s worth noting that most pawn shops will attempt to pre-qualify that the person bringing an item into a pawn shop is the rightful owner. This is done in a lot of different ways, but it normally involves just talking to the customer and asking them when or where they bought the item, how to use it, etc. If the item is something that has been stolen, they will often be unfamiliar with it and unable to answer these basic questions that the true owner would have no problem answering.

In addition, if an item doesn’t “match” the person bringing it into the pawn shop, the pawn shop will often turn it down and in some cases, may report the attempted transaction to the local law enforcement officials. For example, if a 18 year old kid brings a $15,000 ring into a pawn shop, the pawn shop will have pretty strong reasons to suspect that they didn’t buy the ring themselves and probably have it through dishonest means. So, if you suspect that you son or daughter has taken something and they try to get rid of it at a pawn shop, they may find that harder to do then they first suspect.

How To Find Out if Your Son or Daughter Has Pawned or Sold Something to a Pawn Shop

Sadly, there is not an easy process for this typically. Most pawn shops won’t tell you what other people have done in their stores as it’s a matter of protecting their customer’s privacy. Even though the person in question is related to you, it would still possibly expose the pawnbroker to some potential legal action should there be some form of damages as a result of information that they divulge about their customers. Because of this, you will often have to make a police report at the very least and have the police officer contact the pawn shops to inquire about the person(s) or item(s).

I understand that the last thing you really want to do is file charges against your son or daughter, but unfortunately, because pawn shops are financial institutions, there is some red tape involved with this discovery process. That having been said, it never hurts to simply ask the pawn shops in your area beforehand. The worst that they can do is say no. But if they do, don’t be rude or aggressive with them. They aren’t the people who stole your items.